Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/19/gambling_bill/

UK Gov unwraps Gambling Bill

Regulation of online betting on the cards

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Financial News, 19th October 2004 14:48 GMT

The Government has published its new gambling bill today designed to shake up the gambling industry. Although the legislation covers the whole of the industry, part of it also covers the explosion in internet gambling and casinos.

The Government insists the new measures would protect children (by including compulsory age checks for gambling websites for example) and the vulnerable. Critics claim the measures - which include a relaxation of some existing laws - would lead to a massive rise in gambling addiction and indebtedness.

Publishing the bill today the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell said: "It is nearly forty years since Parliament last had the opportunity to take a serious look at our gambling laws and it's not just attitudes that have changed since then. The technological revolution has touched all our lives and the gambling industry is no exception.

"Internet gambling and roulette machines in bookmakers are just two examples of where laws introduced nearly ten years before the first home computer hit the shelves are no longer able to protect children or vulnerable people properly."

In July research by children's charity NCH found that kids as young as 11 are able to set up accounts and gamble online. Speaking today John Carr, Director of the Children and Technology unit at NCH, said the gambling industry has been unable to regulate itself and that new rules were needed.

"We are greatly encouraged to see the Government taking this issue seriously in the Gambling Bill. It brings in a number of vitally important and new protections for children, creating new obligations on companies to do everything they can to stop children gambling online," he said.

Two major credit card companies - American Express and Citigroup - have recently taken steps to prevent their punters from using their cards to gamble online over concerns of fraud and fears that people might run up debts. ®

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