Commons committee calls on government to give local councils more gaming regulatory powers
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has said that local councils should have the power to decide on individual gaming matters, including the location of casinos and the number of gambling machines in bookmakers. In its newly released report, entitled 'The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?', the Committee added that central regulation should exist to ensure high standards of protection for the vulnerable, particularly children.
The cross-party body also recommended an independent review of Gambling Commission expenditure, with a view to reducing costs and the regulatory and fees burden imposed on the industry
John Whittingdale, Tory chairman of the committee, said: "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.
"The 'reluctantly permissive' tone of gambling legislation over the last 50 years now looks outdated."
The report showed how the Gambling Act 2005 'resulted in numerous inconsistencies and is not sufficiently evidence based'.
High street betting shops and casinos alike are currently allowed a maximum of four B2 (FOBT) gaming machines, which allow stakes up to £100 and a £500 prize. The Committee said in its report that casinos, the most highly-regulated sector, should instead be permitted to operate up to twenty B2-type gaming machines. It also found that limiting the number of B2 machines in betting shops has encouraged them to cluster in some high streets in order to satisfy customer demand. Local Authorities should have the power to allow betting shops to have more than the current maximum of four B2 machines per shop if they believe it will help to deal with the issue of clustering.