by Renee Israel
The Commons culture, media and sport select committee is meeting this week to
discuss ways to update what they consider the UK's "outdated" gambling laws.
The committee is seeking changes to existing legislation which could see an
end to a limited number of gambling machines in UK shops and the current £100
wagering limit on gaming terminals.
In addition, the committee wants to remove the power of making decisions
about the number of gambling machines in each district from a currently
centralised authority, and leave it up to local councils.
The MPs are also calling for lower taxes on betting groups in order to lure
them back to the UK and thus give the government a chance to better regulate the
According to the Tory chairman of the committee, John Whittingdale, gambling
is now widely accepted in the UK "as a legitimate entertainment activity."
"We took a lot of evidence in this inquiry, from all sides, and while we
recognise the need to be aware of the harm caused by problem gambling, we
believe that there is considerable scope to reduce and simplify the current
burden of regulation and to devolve decision making to a more local level," said
He justified UK gambling laws changes by saying: "The 'reluctantly
dismissive' tone of gambling legislation over the last 50 years now looks
UK Gambling Industry Welcomes Report
Potential changes to what many consider to be 'puritanical laws' have been
welcomed by the UK gambling industry.
The chairman of the National Casino Industry Forum, Malcolm Moss said that
the organisation was pleased that the committee had recognised the value,
integrity and achievements of the British casino industry.
"We are pleased that the committee has identified the failings of the 2005
Act in creating a twin-track industry which puts British businesses at a
disadvantage and costs jobs and investment," he said. "Harmonising the rules on
the number and type of gambling products all casinos can have will prevent
customer confusion and make it clear what to expect from a UK casino."
Criticism of Gambling Committee Report
The committee is naturally facing criticism from anti-gambling lobbyists who
are especially critical of plans to see the number of betting machines per venue
raised from four to 20. They believe that this will lead to higher problem
"We are perplexed that the committee would recommend a further liberalisation
of gambling machines when they have heard evidence that problem gambling is on
the rise," said Gareth Wallace of the Salvation Army. "If the committee gets its
way, betting shops will be subject to no compulsory limit on these machines and,
for the first time, gaming arcades will be allowed to operate them."