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UK Gambling Industry Under Fire

UK Gambling Industry Under Fire 0001

The UK gambling industry is coming under fire from several, drastically different, divisions of the gaming sector this week. This is a result of some conflicting news item over the last few weeks and the 2005 Gambling Act.

Last week we brought you news that the planned 'Las Vegas' styled Super-Casino which was due to be built in Manchester had been put on hold, while 16 smaller casinos had been given approval across the UK. William Weidner, Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands, came over to the UK to discuss getting involved with the Super-Casino project:

"We spent a lot of time with the folks there (in Britain), trying to figure out how to do a larger style of gaming" said the casino executive "If we'd have known the game was stacked against us, we wouldn't have wasted jet fuel going over there."

"The home team won. The operators there in the UK worked the system very well, so they ended up with what they wanted, what I would consider to be sub-optimal, lousy little casinos that kept them in the game and kept us out," said Weidner "so they have the worst of all worlds - now they have casinos that won't drive visitors in from further away and they'll just have larger places that take more of the money off the local people."

We also brought you the news that Scottish MP Kenneth Gibson was calling for a levy on UK Gambling firms to be introduced, because very few were actually making social responsibility donations to a charity to help problem gamblers. The Responsibility in Gaming Trust (RIGT) will be supporting this, warning the gambling industry that a mandatory gambling tax will be 'inevitable' unless "the situation improves dramatically and RIGT is able to meet its funding targets."

According to a letter seen by the eGaming Review, the RIGT say that only 13% of the 3800 gambling operators in the UK have been making donations to the fund. The RIGT are proposing in the letter that remote UK operators should pay 0.05% of gross revenue per year and offshore operators made a minimum donation of £10,000.

Church groups are said to have had a profound influence in the shelving of the Super-Casino and now Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has lent his support to this debate to, calling on culture secretary Andy Burnham "to introduce a levy on the industry to fund programmes that would check the growth of problem gambling".

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