British MPís tighten gambling regulations
By maddy
As British MPís are moving ahead with the government initiative to tighten casino and slot machine regulations, a cross-party parliamentary committee scrutinizing a draft gambling bill advised the government to proceed more cautiously, before deregulate UKís ₤40 billion gambling industry, besides throwing in 139 recommendations, as the bill makes its way through the parliament.

Most British gambling laws, which date back to the 1960ís currently, need constructive overhauling, considering the changed landscape say industry observers. The 1968 Gambling Act allowed for strict restrictions on the use of casino premises for purposes other than gaming, the hours they could open, where they could be sited and how they could advertise. It also restricted payouts on fruit machines.

ĎThis legislation would increase the number of people in the United Kingdom with a gambling problem. We also recommend a cap on the number of Las Vegas-style slot machines which a casino can install and proposed restricting larger 'resort' casinos to areas where they can bring regeneration, such as ailing seaside towns,í the committee stated in the report.

While, the government is not obliged to accept any of the committee's suggestions, the report will certainly fuel to the fire say analysts. ĎWe will consider their recommendations very carefully and remain keen to bring the bill back before parliament as soon as we can,í said Tessa Jowell, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.

The new gambling bill could pose to be a double-edged sword. For instance, limits on slot-machine numbers and restrictions on where resort casinos can be set up could deter larger operators such as Hilton Group, Rank, London Clubs International and Stanley Leisure and other major US casino chains, they could also benefit from the long-awaited deregulation of Britainís gambling industry as it proposes wholesale deregulation.

Casino operators offering technology-based Internet, mobile phones or interactive TV gambling are now expected to be licensed and regulated properly for the first time under the bill, while it could affect the smaller offline or land-based casinos, must cover a minimum 5,000 square feet (464.5 sq metres), which could prevent them from opening gambling halls, with limit the number of slot machines unlike the larger casinos.

The blanket ban on fruit machines in fish-and-chip shops and taxi offices could also curtail upcoming casinos with limited capital.

Big casino chains such as the Gala Group, said the report was good for both the consumer and the industry, but the definition of big and small casinos is still subjective. In a statement Gala requested the government to clarify parts of the original bill in regards to planning, the definitions of large and resort casinos, and the meaning of 'cultural facilities' at large and resort casinos.

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