Gambling Bill gets green light

United Kingdom

The Gambling Bill is set to become law having been approved by the House of Lords after the government scaled down plans for eight regional 'super casinos' to just one following media outrage and backbench revolt. The Gambling Bill completed all of the House of Lords stages on 6 April 2005 and will become law when it receives royal assent prior to Parliament being dissolved on 11 April 2005.

Whilst the final bill may be significantly watered down in relation to the controversial issue of super casinos, legislation in relation to remote gambling (internet, television, mobile phone etc.) remains intact. Shadow Culture Secretary John Whittingdale commented that the establishment of the Gambling Commission and the regulation of internet gambling are "necessary and uncontentious."

The new legislation will allow casinos to open 24 hours a day with unlimited jackpots and will introduce compulsory age checks on gambling websites. A new body called the Gambling Commission will be created to police the industry. Internet-based gambling operations will be encouraged to locate in the UK, rather than offshore, as is currently the case (both as a consequence of the regulatory regime and the anticipated taxation policy changes).

The remote gambling industry in the UK has broadly encouraged the regulation of online gaming and Andrew Tottenham of the Interactive Gaming and Betting Association said, "the bill will go through unchanged and it looks very, very good. It means a first world jurisdiction will be legalising and regulating remote gambling. It will have enormous implications for the industry worldwide."

The advent of the new regime of regulation for the gambling industry offers a potentially extremely valuable opportunity. Those operators who plan ahead and react quickly can gain an important competitive advantage in an industry which is growing faster than ever in the UK. Failure to react to the new regime will mean a loss of commercial advantage and ultimately may result in penalties being imposed.

For further information, please contact Jason Zemmel at jason.zemmel@cmck.com or on +44 (0)20 7367 2549 or Martin Treagus at martin.treagus@cmck.com or on +44 (0)20 7367 2859.