Gala wants Gambling Bill to be shelved

The government should shelve its controversial Gambling Bill rather than push it through Parliament in its flawed form before a general election, the bingo and casino operator, Gala, said yesterday.

Neil Goulden, the chief executive of Gala, said the Government should consult the industry on the recent changes to the Bill, which he believes have hampered opportunities for existing casino operators to expand.

"The Government seems hell bent on getting this through Parliament before an election," Mr Goulden said. "But gambling laws are only changed once every 50 years, so the Government should make sure it gets it right. There have been so many changes recently, it should now just be put on the back burner until after the election."

In the face of growing concern that its proposals would lead to widespread problem gambling, the Government has said that only eight new Las Vegas-style casinos containing up 1,250 unlimited prize slot machines will be allowed. It has also a limited the number of new small and large casinos.

Existing casino groups had hoped to install unlimited prize slot machines in their venues, as well as increase the number of slot machines they could install, but this has also been blocked by the Government.

Mr Goulden said: "We are not afraid of competition and we embrace social responsibility, but we believe unlimited prize slot machines, which will be new to the UK, should be trialled with existing operators, who have proved their ability to run casinos responsibly for more than 40 years."

With a general election expected in May, the Gambling Bill has only a few weeks to pass through Parliament. A number of opposition MPs are already expecting last-minute concessions from the Government to get it passed in time.

Gala had planned to spend millions on developing a number of Las Vegas-style casinos in the UK in conjunction with a US partner, Harrah's. Following the Government's climbdown on the number of new super-casinos it would allow, Gala abandoned its joint venture with Harrah's.

Mr Goulden's comments came as Gala reported a 6 per cent increase in like-for-like sales over the Christmas period, thanks to the growing popularity of bingo. Sales through Gala's 166 bingo clubs increased more than 7 per cent during the seven weeks to 7 January.

The average age of new members joining its bingo clubs is 26, demonstrating that Gala is succeeding in drawing in a younger audience. "Bingo has become quite a trendy thing to do. Most of our members are women. We provide a safe and fun night out," Mr Goulden said.

Gala's 29 casinos had sales growth of 5.7 per cent over the Christmas period.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most