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Why the Gambling Act is such a loser?

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by james01, Sep 11, 2007.

    Sep 11, 2007
  1. james01

    james01 Dormant account

    Interesting article about the UKs Gambling Act

    Source:The telegraph(quality newspaper in the UK)

    Why the Gambling Act is such a loser

    Last Sunday, the Blair Government's Gambling Act 2005 came into operation and by Monday lunchtime I received my first email from an online casino site.

    "Join today and we'll give you a 300 per cent bonus on your first deposit, worth up to 300 euros!" it said. "We have a huge range of games, including the biggest progressive jackpots online, giving you the chance to win millions of euros in a single spin!"

    I didn't fancy my chances. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I got more, and by Friday, I was shouting: BLOODY Gordon Brown! This is your fault!

    Since I keep a very tidy email inbox, which is assiduously reinforced by my friend the IT geek, I was rather cross about being invaded by casino emails and rang him up. "Do they look like legit sites?"

    No. Nobody has yet sent me an email from William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stan James or any other recognisably British name. Nor have I had one from PokerStars (which is not a British company, but is, I happen to know, run by Mohawk Indians from a reservation in Canada. Still - perfectly legit.) Anyway, he cleaned up the inbox.

    Now, I don't blame Big Gordo for my inbox invasion. But I do blame him for his pompous spin about whether or not Gambling is Good for You. Since he was Chancellor of Exchequer for the past 10 years, he shared equal responsibility for the not-very-good Gambling Act with that yesterday's man who went to live in Jerusalem. And he now has sole responsibility for it.

    When Tessa Jowell first dressed up as Blackjack Lil and lay across a roulette table to place her poker chips for the cameras, the Gambling Act was spun (by Blairites) as all about freedom. The Blair Government wanted to license super-casinos all over Britain and allow online gambling sites to be registered in the United Kingdom. (Unlike puritanical America, where gambling sites are illegal.)

    The support for the Bill came from libertarian types who think gamblers are grown-ups: they should be free to choose how, when, where and how much they gamble.

    The opposition was from kindly shepherds who think gamblers are the poor, halt and lame: they should be removed from temptation, lest they get addicted to losing their wherewithal - and won't someone think of the children?

    The funny thing was that the Parliamentary Labour Party is somewhat short on libertarian toughies and long on kindly Methody preachers - and loads of them hated Blackjack Lil's Bill. Obviously including Gordon, who is becoming more holier-than-thou with every passing day.

    The fact that he suddenly said he wasn't going to let Manchester have its super-casino didn't worry me: I've lived in Manchester. Its unique quality of life is not going to be improved any by having a super-casino, and, anyway, I was more of a Blackpool girl.

    What does fret me is the muddled thinking over the e-casinos. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (no longer run by the witless Jowell, who can't even cope with her own mortgage forms, let alone the billions wasted by the department) has spent a shedload of my money on a website explaining how it will regulate online casino and betting sites.

    The website offers operators based in the European Economic Association the opportunity to apply for a British licence. This licence will prove to the punter that the site is legitimate, lawful and effectively regulated. It will make sure that he is over 18. It will tell him (should he find himself becoming worryingly addicted to online gambling) how he can obtain caring and non-judgmental help, via links to Gamcare, the online helpline.

    It will also mean that the e-casino operators can run television advertisements for the first time actually showing grown-ups playing poker. (However, the actors must all be over 25 and the ads must not link gambling to sexual success.)

    The point of the British licence is to encourage the world's casino websites to base themselves here, where they can be diligently regulated night and day by 50 compliance managers newly recruited for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. But of the thousands of online casino operators worldwide, only a handful - 14 the last time I looked - have applied for one.

    Why? Because Brown decided to tax all British-based betting and casino sites at 15 per cent of gross profits. Not surprisingly, they have chosen to be based in much lower-taxed places, eg Malta, which taxes at a very acceptable 2.5 per cent.

    Ladbrokes has not signed up for a British licence, nor has William Hill, which used to be based in Curacao, but now has moved to Malta. Oh - and since Malta is in the European Economic Association, it will be allowed to advertise on television.

    So now we have the most caringly protective online betting regulatory system in the world, hurrah. But none of the big boys will sign up to it. Boo. (The Isle of Man is laughing its head off.)

    Of course, the companies that do sign up will be taxed at 15 per cent gross. But there aren't enough of them even to pay the salaries of the 50 new compliance managers recruited for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

    Funnily enough, anyone who looks up the department's website to get help for his addiction to online gambling will find that the United Kingdom's only (free) residential treatment centre for addicted gamblers is called Gordon House. Piquant, eh?
    4 people like this.

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