Clause 6 - Gaming and Game of chance

Part of Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 11th November 2004.

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Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport and Tourism), Department for Culture, Media & Sport 10:15 am, 11th November 2004

I have been saying that the intention of the Bill and the powers that it gives to the Secretary of State and the gambling commission is to try to make

the system foolproof, wherever possible. The hon. Gentleman knows that there have been some difficulties. In fact, the whole reason for introducing the Bill was to bring the law up to date and to regulate to protect people, to a large extent because of the changes brought about by electronic and remote gambling, which we are aware is possible.

The powers in subsection (6) will be used only if a new problem arises. One cannot draft for something that may or may not arise. The clause is about future-proofing, where we can, within the constraints that I outlined earlier. It would therefore be impossible to provide draft regulations.

Clause 6 provides the definition of gaming for the purposes of the Bill. That definition is based on the definitions in the 1968 Act, but with improvements to take account of the fact that games can now be played against computers, and not just in person. The clause provides for greater clarity and certainty about the distinction between games of chance and sport by giving the Secretary of State the power to specify on which side of the borderline a particular activity should fall. We all know that there is an element of chance in all sports; for example, whether the golf ball hits the pin and drops into the hole, which does not often happen to me, or whether it is deflected into the bunker, as often happens to me, is often a matter of pure chance. However, golf is a sport, and we do not want the Bill to make golf, when played for money, subject to the same regulation as gambling. Gambling on the outcome of golf matches is, of course, another matter. In the case of traditional sport, it is clear what the activity is, but with other activities it may be less clear. We do not want to leave loopholes through which a commercial gambling operator can claim that something which is, in reality, gambling and has the characteristics of gambling, is exempt from the control because it is defined as a sport within the subsection.