Just one Mega-Casino!

Rechtsanwalt Dr. Wulf Hambach

Hambach & Hambach Rechtsanwälte
Haimhauser Str. 1
D - 80802 München
Tel.: +49 89 389975-50
Fax: +49 89 389975-60
E-Mail: w.hambach@timelaw.de
Following the passing of the UK Gambling Bill by the House of Commons last year, the Bill has also survived the next greatest hurdle. After successful marathon negotiations in the House of Lords, the Bill appears to be home and dry in Great Britain. Now, it still remains for the Bill to get through Parliament. Whether this will occur before the Parliamentary elections on the 5th of May is doubtful.

A major reason for the agreement of the House of Lords to the Bill was the reduction of the originally planned 40 mega-casinos to one casino of this type.

„Regional casinos present a totally new concept for Great Britain and their potential immense effect on crime and gambling addiction is to be feared“,

said John Wittingdale, the shadow culture secretary of the Opposition. It remains open whether this will be the prototype which – if the fears do not come true – could be followed by even more regional casinos.

One thing is certain: The huge US casino providers (e.g., Harrah´s and MGM Mirage) must, for the time being, put their plans to establish their own casinos in Great Britain as well, on hold.

The debate on the drafting of this Bill started four years ago and lead to a 218 page official body of rules which mainly provides for the creation of a Gambling Commission to monitor the Betting and Gambling Industry.

The Bill should also have an effect in the online area; Part 1, Principal Concepts, Sec. 4, covers remote gambling which encompasses all partaking in games with the aid of telecommunication (Internet, telephone, radio, etc.). Whether an organiser of profit-based games is subject to penal sanctions should generally depend on Part 3 General Offences Sec. 30, i.e., whether a part of the facilities which are used to organise gambling (registration devices, advertisement, payment devices) is located in the United Kingdom. There are of course some exceptions to this which are to be examined on a case by case basis.

Tax amendments are not to be found in the Gambling Bill. It can be assumed from the drastic lowering of the tax rate for gaming tax in the past that at least the current level will be retained. The British Tax Exchequer, with a yearly tax revenue of 1.3 billion Pounds [2004] will certainly want to avoid the migration of organisers (as has happened in the past).

As the gambling industry in Germany is predominantly being decided on by the judicature and is on the verge of liberalisation – at least the sports betting market – it would be worth the while of the German politicians to take a look across the British Channel at their British colleagues. It is simple to ban the private gambling industry. It is in itself a challenge to regulate this huge economic market sector with a balanced legislative framework and to provide for consumer protection.