Gambling industry deregulation is shelved indefinitely

The Government has delayed plans to deregulate the casino and betting industry indefinitely. Andrew Yates reports on a move that could cost the gambling industry hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Home Office is understood to have postponed plans to introduce legislation which would have allowed casinos and betting shops to attract customers by installing more gaming machines. The proposals are unlikely to be adopted for several years at least, according to industry sources. Similarly plans to increase the number of casinos around the country by granting up to 25 new licences in provincial towns and cities are believed to have been shelved for the foreseeable future.

A question mark is also hanging over a number of other industry reforms which had been due to be introduced in a new government bill within the next few months. These include allowing punters to become a member of a casino by post. Under the current system customers are forced to apply in person.

The industry has been lobbying to be allowed some form of limited advertising. At present casinos are prevented from advertising or even listing their name in the phone book. However this measure could also be put on the back-burner along with proposals to allow customers to join a group of casinos by making just one application.

Before the election Labour Party officials told industry chiefs that it was keen to push ahead with the gaming deregulation programme that had been put in train by the Conservative administration. But since then it has dragged its feet and failed to announce the adoption of any new measures. Now there are growing fears throughout the betting industry that the Home Office is poised to make a policy U-turn.

One source said: "The government has other priorities at the moment with a heavy legislative programme. Gambling deregulation is hardly a vote winner and it will be swept under the carpet for the time being or possibly for ever."

Eighteen months ago the Tories increased the number of gaming machines permitted in casinos from two to six and fixed the maximum jackpot at pounds 250. The idea was eventually to allow three machines per gaming table with unlimited stakes and pay outs.

Two slot machines were also permitted in betting shops with payouts of up to pounds 10. Hopes of further machines appear to have been dashed.

The delays will have wide-scale financial repercussions for betting groups. Bruce Jones, a leisure analysts at Merrill Lynch, the City brokers, estimates that delays to gaming deregulation will cost companies millions of pounds of profits. The introduction of more gaming machines alone could have increased the profits at Stanley Leisure by a half, Stakis by a fifth and London Clubs International (LCI) by 15 per cent. "The introduction of gaming machines was the big prize for the industry," said Mr Jones.

The prospects of further delays have prompted an outcry from the betting industry yesterday. Alan Goodenough, head of LCI, one of the biggest casino operators in the country, but he said he was bitterly disappointed by the continued delays. "On the face of it the Government has a will to deregulate the industry but behind the scenes I am not quite so sure. The situation is a nonsense and is evidence of mollycoddling by a nanny state."

The delays may force casino operators such as LCI look overseas for expansion opportunities. "The fact of the matter is that we are a mile off the international pace. This could take a lot of business overseas and this decision could damage the economy of the country and the tourist industry," said Mr Goodenough.

However the move was welcomed by anti-gambling pressure groups and by charities which have already seen revenues eroded by the National Lottery.

Even if gaming deregulation is eventually adopted, the industry will probably have to accept watered down proposals.

The Home Office said yesterday that the deregulation of the gaming industry was still under consideration but refused to comment on whether immediate plans had been shelved.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor