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Island Ahead of the Game 18 June 2004

The United Kingdomís Department for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday released its response to the First Report of the Joint Committee on the draft Gambling Bill which proposes to introduce tough new controls on high prize gaming machines and new powers for local authorities to stop casinos opening in their areas among other new powers that will be introduced as part of the United Kingdom Governmentís modernisation of Britainís Gambling Laws.

In this connection the Isle of Man Governmentís Department of Home Affairs being the equivalent body to the United Kingdomís Department for Culture, Media and Sport, in as far as the Gambling industry is concerned, has welcomed the proposed changes in the United Kingdom. Most of the changes to the United Kingdom gambling laws will bring controls in line with what has been place in the Island for many years.

The changes include the banning of fruit machines from unlicensed premises such as minicab offices and takeaways. In the Isle of Man the siting of these controlled machines have been limited to premises such as Public Houses, Arcades and Hotels and other controlled areas since the mid 1980ís.

In addition the Bill proposes to introduce measures to protect children from gambling and in this connection in the Island no person under the age of 16 may enter an area with controlled machines unless accompanied by an adult. The Isle of Man Gambling Control Commission is also mindful of problem gambling and social behaviour surrounding the Gambling industry.

As previously mentioned the proposed legislation introduces additional powers to prevent Casinos setting up. In the Isle of Man the number of land based Casinos is already restricted by statute to a maximum of two. In addition in the United Kingdom the provision of guest entrance to casinos is to be removed which has been the case in the Isle of Man for many years and where all entrants have to have membership.

The Bill will introduce capping on the unlimited prizes of slot machines and restrict the number of machines in all casinos. In the Isle of Man the Gambling Control Commission controls the number of machines and the level of prize of each machine.

The proposals also introduce a new Gambling Commission which takes the place of the Gaming Board of Great Britain the Gaming Control Commission in the Isle of Man has been in existence for 40 years and was renamed the Gambling Control Commission in 2001. The United Kingdom is also introducing additional controls on new forms of gambling technology which have been in place in the Isle of Man re its On-Line Gambling Regulation Act since 2001.

The Department welcomes the proposed changes in the United Kingdom and is of the view that the additional regulations if approved will prove beneficial to the United Kingdom as they have in the Isle of Man.

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