Liberalization will increase compulsive gambling
By paul
Gamcare, a charity that monitors problem gambling in the UK, has warned that the deregulation of gaming in the UK could lead to a higher percentage of compulsive gamblers.

Teresa Tunstall, development officer for GamCare of London, said the charity estimates only 0.8 per cent of the UK’s 60 million population have a compulsive gambling disorder. That, however, could increase if the UK government presses ahead with its proposed liberalization of gambling regulations, which would allow more gambling venues, Tunstall said.

GamCare - the National Association for Gambling Care, Educational Resources and Training - says it is neutral toward the casino industry, although it provides counseling to people with addictive behavior, particularly compulsive gambling. Tunstall said in a panel discussion at the G2E conference that her group is lobbying to mandate that casino companies be required to finance research and treatment by GamCare.

Several Nevada gaming companies have considered expansion into the UK in light of the proposed deregulation, some signing deals and others exploring possibilities.

Harrah's Entertainment Inc., Las Vegas, announced a $1 billion joint venture with UK based Gala Group to build eight regional casinos. MGM MIRAGE bought a 25 per cent holding in Metro Casinos Ltd., and has expressed interest in other deals.

Nevada-based slot manufacturing giant International Game Technology (IGT), bought the UK’s Barcrest Games. Analysts say the deregulation of gambling in the UK would hugely impact the slot industry, with new opportunities for IGT and Las Vegas rival Alliance Gaming Corp.

Other companies interested in the UK market are Park Place Entertainment, the Mandalay Resort Group and Wynn Resorts, while Isle of Capri Casinos and Kerzner International are also considering entering the UK market.

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