Opposing Groups Criticize UK Gambling Act

The advent of online gambling has created conflicts between groups that oppose online gambling and players and industry associations. The debate is between those that feel gambling is immoral and those pointing out the good that lotteries and casinos do for sports clubs and governments. The Gambling Act of 2005 was passed by Parliament and is designed to control all forms of gambling in the UK. The act addresses both live and online gambling. The act has three objectives;
1.    preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
2.    ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
3.    protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Governments around the world must try to balance the interests of players and gambling opponents. Recently opponents and supporters of gambling are criticizing the Gambling Act saying that the act has led to confusion and social issues. The cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have enquired whether the act has done what it was designed to do. There have been a number of submissions providing evidence that will either confirm or dispute the effectiveness of the Gambling Act.  The inquiry has led to submissions from some of the nation’s top online bingo and gaming operators such as Ladbrokes and William Hill.

The Salvation Army has weighed in on the issue. Traditionally the Salvation Army is against any form of gambling including lotteries. The Salvation Army has submitted evidence that shows an increase in gambling addiction. Tessa Jowell of the Salvation Army stated that “any increase in problem gambling would be a failure” and added “The Act has resulted in an increase in gambling and subsequent increase in problem gambling.” “The Government needs to take urgent action.” The Methodist church also commented and succinctly stated “Problem gambling is on the increase.”

Gambling operators, including online bingo companies, are also criticizing the act and would like to see changes to the legislation. One unnamed operator stated “Operators say fees have risen 12-fold under the Act, and that online gambling is not properly regulated, with many companies going offshore.” The Casino Operators Association expressed their opinion and stated “Current legislation is an irrational mess and hugely damaging to the established British industry.” According to several bingo news sources many operators feel that offshore operations have a competitive advantage over sites licensed in the UK.  Sites licensed in the UK pay a 15% tax rate while offshore sites pay lower taxes or no taxes at all. When both sides of this issue get together most likely there will be major chances in the works.