Clause 1 - The licensing objectives

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Shadow Minister, Home Affairs 10:15 am, 9th November 2004

I am not going to rehearse all the arguments that we shall deploy later, but we could proceed in several ways. There is no reason why the Government could not say that they would have four casinos in areas A, B, C and D. Indeed, they may decide on more than four, although we hope that there will be some movement on that. Equally, certain regions could be asked to tender for one casino, which could then be put out to a bid process. So, we could proceed in all sorts of ways, but the essential point is

that we start with a small number and check to see how they are working before we increase the number by between 20 and 40, which is the scale that the Government seem to envisage in the Bill. We are saying that that is unacceptable and that we want the development to be gradual, if possible.

Amendment No. 80 would add the objective of

''promoting fair competition between those associated with gambling''

in line 11 of page 1. It would increase the power of the gambling commission—which will, of course, be delivering on such objectives throughout the industry—by providing that it can act to prevent a distortion of the competitive market and ensure that consumer choice is enhanced by effective competition, so far as that is consistent with the other licensing objectives. It also seeks to ensure that the licensing objectives are applied uniformly and consistently. Underpinning all policy should be the objective of fairly implementing the revised regulatory scheme, which will achieve equity for consumers and operators, with safeguards against discrimination.

There has been quite a reaction from the existing industry to the Government's proposals subsequent to the scrutiny Committee's second report on regional casinos—[Interruption.]