Vice Squad
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
British Gambling Liberalisation

For the last few years, Great Britain has been laying the groundwork
for a significant deregulation of gambling
. Though opportunities to
legally gamble in Britain abound -- indeed, their National Lottery,
introduced in 1994, has been extremely popular -- the Department of
Culture, Media, and Sport notes that "The legal framework for gambling
is one of grudging toleration." Current regulations are a bit of a
hodgepodge and preclude Las Vegas-style casinos. British casinos can
only admit members, and you cannot become a member on the spot:
there's a 24-hour waiting period. Credit cards cannot be used to
gamble, and alcohol distribution and live entertainment also are
restricted in casinos. "Linking" gambling machines to provide large
prizes is barred, and bet sizes are controlled, too. Plans to take
advantage of liberalised regulations to create Vegas-type British
casinos have been in the works in the seaside resort town of

The BBC reports today on a Salvation Army-sponsored poll indicating
that public opinion is opposed to loosening gambling regulations:
the "survey said 93% of people believe there are already enough
opportunities to gamble and the law should not be relaxed."

The general notion that there's not a huge groundswell of popular
support for liberalised gaming in Britain is not news. In the report
linked above (from 2002), the Department of Culture, Media, and
Sport noted that the majority of British felt that current controls
were either about right or too loose. But the report also noted
that most people admit that they do not actually know what the
current controls are! At the same time, nearly three-quarters of
British residents gamble.

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