Britain Prepares to Mull Gambling

18 February 2000
British Home Secretary Jack Straw has announced terms of reference for the Gambling Review Body, a panel that is expected to consider, and make recommendations for, the kind and extent of regulation appropriate for gambling activities in Great Britain.

Current gambling legislation was written decades ago, and the panel will review it with an eye on current and future gambling trends, including the advent of the Internet.

Straw called the process "a comprehensive review taking into account a wide range of issues, from the growth in e-commerce and technology, to the social impact, costs and benefits of gambling."

He added, "The review will help shape and inform future gambling legislation which will balance the interests of business with a responsibility to protect the public. I look forward to receiving their recommendations. "

The review body will be asked to:

  • Consider the current state of the gambling industry and the ways in which it might change over the next ten years in the light of economic pressures, the growth of e-commerce, technological developments and wider leisure industry and international trends.
  • Consider the social impact of gambling and the costs and benefits.
  • Consider, and make recommendations for, the kind and extent of regulation appropriate for gambling activities in Great Britain, having regard to:
    • their wider social impact;
    • the need to protect the young and vulnerable from exploitation and to protect all gamblers from unfair practices;
    • the importance of preventing gambling from being carried out in a way which allows crime disorder or public nuisance;
    • the need to keep the industry free from infiltration by organised and other serious crime, and from money laundering risks;
    • the desirability of creating an environment in which the commercial opportunities for gambling, including its international competitiveness, maximize the UK's economic welfare; and
    • the implications for the current system of taxation, and the scope for its further development.
  • Consider the need for, and, if necessary, recommend new machinery appropriate for carrying out that regulation which achieves a more consistent and streamlined approach than is now possible and which is financed by the gambling industry itself.
  • Consider the availability and effectiveness of treatment programmes for problem gamblers and make recommendations for their future provision, potential costings, and funding.

In conducting this review, the body should not consider changes to the National Lottery. But it will need to look at the impact on the Lottery of any proposed changes, including an assessment of the potential effect on the income to good causes.

The review body will commence work this spring and report back by summer 2001.

Straw has named Sir Alan Budd to chair the panel. Budd currently serves as Provost of Queen's College Oxford and is a former Chief Economic Adviser to the Treasury and Monetary Policy Committee member. Other review members will be named shortly.