Clause 1 - The licensing objectives

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 9th November 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham 11:00 am, 9th November 2004

It is widely recognised in this country and internationally that the gaming and betting industry in the UK is largely free from corruption and criminal elements. That is the result of tough enforcement, which the Bill will reinforce. I therefore welcome paragraph (a), which sets out the objective of preventing gambling from being the source of crime and disorder. I sympathise with amendment No. 71, as it is important that those who run casinos or who are involved in gaming should not have a criminal record.

It is not so much that the operation of casinos or licensed betting outlets may involve organised crime as the fact that they may be used to launder large sums of cash. At present, there is clear protection and reassurance because people have to join casinos, so the operators and gambling commission know, or can identify who is laying the money. I am anxious that, if there is a large explosion of super-casinos, with no membership rules and no form of identity required, they will be used by unscrupulous individuals to launder large amounts of cash, possibly using different individuals to do so.

The Committee needs to look carefully at that issue, as we do not want to undo the Government's good work in introducing the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. That measure is already having an effect in my

constituency as people have to explain why they have large assets and where certain amounts of cash have come from. We do not want casinos and the gaming industry to become an easy way to get rid of or ''to clean'' large amounts of money that have been generated from the drugs industry, which causes misery to our constituents.

I welcome the new forms of gambling in the Bill, such as exchange betting, which has become popular. However, I have a word of caution: people using betting exchanges can remain anonymous in laying bets against one another. We need to look at that, because it is one way of laundering large sums of cash. The argument is that we would know that the money was to be paid into some other account. We would, but we would not know who was betting. It does not take a genius to work out that such a method could be used to deal with large amounts of cash.