Like the Government, the Hippodrome Casino - along with the entire UK sector - strongly supports a healthy gambling industry. An industry that generates investment and employment and provides a safe gaming environment for all.
This is why I am heartened by its Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures and its intent to ensure a proper balance between socially responsible growth and the protection of consumers and the wider communities.
It’s time for some bold, headline-grabbing, fundamental changes.
It’s time to recognise that casinos are the appropriate places for harder gambling, with proper supervision, control and regulation, and that the archaic restrictions on the number of slots should be lifted. While generally restricted to 20 slots, common sense dictates this is increased to 80, although even this is still a small number by international standards, and in truth it should be more. This will lead to inward investment into UK casinos and more income for the treasury, much of it from tourists.
Casinos are at the top of the regulatory and supervisory pyramid. Customers go to them as a destination. We have dedicated specialist staff covering all functions to ensure everything runs properly and we go further than anyone else in the industry to mitigate harm and provide player protection commensurate with the level of gaming offered.
Unlike the bookies, casinos are not scrabbling around trying to look like they are being responsible, and coming up with untested and unproven ‘harm mitigation’ measures in an effort to justify continuing with products that are simply not appropriate.
It’s time this was recognised.
It’s time, once and for all, to wipe away the hard casino gaming in betting shops. FOBTs are the scourge of the high street. They cause massive social problems and taint the UK gaming industry’s reputation. The solution is to remove the FOBTs and return the bookmaker to being a bookmaker, not a casino. 93 UK councils representing 20 million people are demanding action. We should support them.
It’s time to deal with gambling advertising on TV. The public do not want it. Currently bingo, lottery and sports betting are exempt from a ban on TV gambling adverts before the 9pm watershed. At the very least there should be no gambling advertising before 9pm, if any at all.
It’s time for change.