Gov­ern­ment urged to re­view out­dated casino reg­u­la­tion

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Oliver Gill

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.”

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