UK House of Lords Deals Joker To Online Gaming Plans
30 March 2007
By Harry Wallop
Last Updated: 1:22am BST 30/03/2007
The casino industry never had a particularly high opinion of the Government but, after the events of the past 10 days, Labour ministers are being viewed with as much relish as a card-counter at a blackjack table.
“The UK is the laughing stock of the world, it really is,” said one senior casino executive.
First there was the Budget, when Gordon Brown announced – without warning or consultation – a significant increase in gaming duties. He also, in effect, shut down the country to online gambling companies by setting a new Remote Gaming Duty at a level that everyone says is too high.
Then came the bombshell of Wednesday night when the House of Lords voted against the Casino Advisory Panel’s choice of locations for the 17 new casinos.
This was only the second time that the Lords have voted against a piece of secondary legislation in the past 40 years. It showed how strongly many people on the political spectrum feel about the new casinos – both their proposed locations and their ethics.
The Government’s policy of liberalising the UK gambling industry – for decades, so heavily regulated that casinos couldn’t even list in the telephone directory – is now in a busted flush.
Mark Reed, leisure analyst at Teather & Greenwood, said: “It’s not really a policy. It seems [to be] made up on the hoof. Personally, I think it’s incredibly disappointing and a real missed opportunity”…
…But for many casino executives the lack of political support from both Labour and the Conservatives means they are seriously reconsidering their investment plans. One Las Vegas operator said: “Sane minds have not prevailed. We are expanding overseas, but not in the UK.”
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