|Following the announcement by the UK government that it is going to tighten up laws on gambling, shares of UK betting companies fell significantly yesterday. Reactions gauged from proprietors of such companies was not positive, after the government had outlined their intentions to encourage large resort style casinos in regional centres over the UK.|
These new laws would allow the larger regional based casinos to offer high-prize slot machines, limited to a maximum of 1,250 per site, but would prohibit any of these in smaller casinos. Small casinos would also no longer be able to offer bingo as a game for punters, while fruit machines will be banned entirely from any unlicensed premises. Both the small and large casinos will be able to host slot machines, with the maximum number for a small venue being 80 per site, and for a large casino 150 per site.
It is this differentiation between the facilities small and large casinos can offer which has caused the most concern amongst those currently involved in the UK industry. The chairman of the British Casino Association, Penelope Cobham has said the new ruling “created a chasm between the existing industry and new entrants”, and criticised the government for ignoring the usual three year consultation process.
It is believed several overseas casino companies are interested in developing sites in the UK, including names such as the US’s MGM Mirage and Harrah’s, as well as South African company Sun International. In the meantime these drops in share prices have been recorded for UK companies already present in the market, with operator William Hill reporting the biggest drop with shares falling 17p yesterday.