Gambling: The new bill in focus

Last updated at 15:05 19 October 2004

Britain is heading for a gambling explosion as ministers unveil new legislation which will sweep away restrictions on betting. But what exactly will the new Gambling Bill involve? See our point-by-point guide to what the new law means:

  • Unlimited jackpots will be played for in the new largest casinos - known as regional casinos.
  • Only the largest casinos of 5,000 square metres or more should be allowed newly permitted high-stakes machines - a restriction that would favour the big US firms.
  • Casinos will be open to the public 24 hours-a-day rather than operating as membership clubs as now.
  • New casinos can open wherever planning permission is gained, and will no longer have to be sited in certain 'permitted' areas.
  • Besides the supersized 'regional' casinos, there will be other establishments designated 'large' and 'small', where lower prize money can be played for on slot machines.
  • Slot machines will be banned from smaller premises such as fast food shops and minicab offices, where young people and others are thought to be at risk.
  • The Government claims there would be 6,000 fewer premises where slot machines would be licensed.
  • A new Gambling Commission will be created to supervise the industry with a new licensing regime which takes the responsibility for approving premises away from local licensing justices. The Commission will also oversee a new code of practice.
  • Racecourse betting will be allowed on Good Friday and Christmas Day for the first time.
  • About 40 new casino projects have been announced before deregulation in Britain, with investment of about $5 billion expected from firms in the United States, Australia and South Africa.
  • Gaming firms such as the US's Kerzner International, Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage have been eying the UK market for some time.
  • Britain's biggest operator Stanley Leisure has announced that it is to build a £125 million casino complex near Leeds United's Elland Road stadium.
  • Las Vegas-based casino owner Caesars Entertainment meanwhile plans a multi-million pound 'entertainment resort' at a redeveloped Wembley leisure complex in north London in a joint venture with Quintain Estates.
  • Kerzner hopes to build a complex near London's struggling Millennium Dome.
  • The Gambling Bill is expected to be introduced in the Queen's Speech at the start of the next parliamentary session.