United Kingdom parliamentary select committee continues its study of the British gambling industry. The committee wants to hear evidence from former political leaders, who were responsible for implementation of British gambling laws.
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has called to the Grimmond Room at Portcullis House the former Secretary of State Tessa Jowell and former Sport and Tourism Minister Richard Caborn.
The committee also expects the following figures to show up later: Alderney Gambling Control Commission Executive Director, Andre Wilsenach; Gibraltar Gambling Commission Gambling Commissioner, Phillip Brear and Chairman of Jersey Gambling Commission, Graham White.
Richard Caborn told United Kingdom gambling news that back in 2005 Labour Party put a halt to its plans for several land-based super-casinos following a nationwide negative campaign by The Daily Mail. Caborn also revealed that the Labour leadership at that time decreased the number of proposed gambling establishments before the 2005 general election.
The former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, confirmed that in April 2005 plans for all but one giant casino complexes were scrapped. Initially eight mega-casinos were to be built in Britain.
Caborn answered if the mega-casino concessions were a political decision, he told the committee: “There were two things. One is you’ve got a campaign run by a national newspaper and you were coming up to an election in 2005.”
He went on to add: “That was the reality of it. Did you save the chunk of the Bill – online gambling and all that – did you save all that and do a deal on wash-up?”
Tessa Jowell told the committee that the pull back was a “small price to pay” for securing the 2005 Gambling Act. However she was more cautious about the political pressures for carrying out the decision. She said the move was based on “parliamentary politics” and not on “external forces”.
The British super-casino plan was eventually scrapped altogether in 2008. Jowell also told the committee that there were issues with betting machines. She said: “I think it is possible to lose, if you just play constantly for an hour, you can lose GBP 18,000. I would be concerned about that.” The machines had been put “on probation” by Labour leaders because at that time the government was concerned about unintended consequences and problem gambling.
After the evidence hearings, The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is continuing with the British gambling industry study, which among others includes the possibility of secondary licensing and taxation of online casinos in United Kingdom.