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Gambling Bill May Mean Job Cuts

New gambling regulations could force interactive and online operators to move off-shore, MPs have been warned.

One industry leader told them that the draft Gambling Bill introduced "costly and onerous" regulation that would harm the industry and cost jobs.

A more positive approach might attract companies now based off-shore bringing up to 3,000 new jobs, he said.

The new bill will create a single regulator, the Gambling Commission, to cover all aspects of the industry.

But interactive operators fear rules that work for brick-and-mortar casinos may harm online, mobile and interactive-TV gambling. 

Bill Haygarth, of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: "There’s nothing in the bill for the betting industry, apart from increased regulation and costs.

"Licenses would be needed for everything from large scale operators to backroom telephone betting businesses," he told a pre-legislative committee scrutinising the bill.

"That could lead to betting companies moving off-shore … but if the government gets it right it could mean 3,000-plus jobs."

Andrew Tottenham, chair of the Interactive Gambling, Gaming and Betting Association, said Mr Haygarth’s estimate for potential jobs might be too high.

"We’re optimistic that companies will come to the UK, but … jobs that would be brought here would be high-tech, high-skilled jobs," he said.

Call centres and other less skilled jobs would probably remain overseas, although the benefit to consumers would still be substantial. 

"At the moment, the consumer doesn’t care too much where the company is," Mr Tottenham said. "They’ll use services based in Cuba, Panama, Curacao.

"It’s only when they don’t get paid that they start to worry about where it is."

If the UK was a more attractive business place, more companies would be under British regulation, protecting consumers from unscrupulous operators, he said.

Mr Tottenham also said better regulation was needed to ensure "random number" software [used to power chance-based games like roulette] was not biased against the consumer.

Read the entire article at: BBC News 

2004 Online Casino News Archive


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