Government urged to review outdated casino regulation
CASINO operator Rank Group is in line for a major boost if ministers heed recommendations by an influential House of Lords report on gambling.
Under decades-old gambling legislation, most casinos are restricted to 20 gaming machines per venue.
A House of Lords report entitled “Gambling Harm – Time for Action” has suggested the Government should consider sweeping changes to the rules. While the Gambling Act 2005 changed the rules, this only applies for casinos that are licensed under such rules. Most venues come under 1968’s Gaming Act.
The Lords report read: “We therefore remain in the strange position of having the number of gaming machines in any given casino decided by the date on which it was opened, and whether it is regulated by the preserved provisions of the 1968 Act or the 2005 Act, rather than its size, number of customers or demand.”
Gambling laws are expected to be revised this autumn, with much of the legislation expected to crack down on problem gambling – something that could curb firms’ profitability.
However, in a rare piece of positive news, the Lords’ report gives operators such as Rank cause for optimism.
“We are sympathetic to the call to increase the number of gaming machines available in casinos, but believe that the Government must undertake its assessment of casinos regulations before making any changes,” it reads.
“We believe that the Government should undertake the assessment of casino regulations which should have been undertaken in 2014, and ensure that all casinos are regulated consistently.
“The Government should forthwith undertake the assessment of casino regulations which it promised would take place in 2014, and apply the same regulations to all casinos, regardless of when they opened.”
Rank chief executive John O’Reilly said: “A lot has happened since the Gambling Act 2005.
“If you restrict supply [of gaming machines], customers don’t want to leave it for fear of not being able to get back onto it again.”