Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Memoranda


Memorandum submitted by the Gala Group


  1.  Gala Group is the largest operator of licensed bingo clubs in Great Britain with 166 branches and is one of the three large casino operators with 26 operating branches. Gala has over 5 million bingo and 1 million casino members generating total admissions of 33 million per annum to our bingo clubs and 2.7 million per annum to our casinos. We employ around 10,000 staff and operate over 7,300 gaming machines.


  2.  Both the Budd Gambling Review Report and the subsequent Government response in "A Safe Bet for Success" are clear and balanced assessments of the issues involved in the need to modernise and simplify the regulation of gambling in Great Britain whilst maintaining strict probity and the protection of the young and vulnerable. Gala fully supports the underlying philosophy of these reports and their main recommendations and conclusions.

  3.  The Government's proposals will lead to significant economic and social benefits. These will be delivered through an increase in the number of gaming outlets and the subsequent creation of new jobs as well as through increased taxation revenue and a step change in the corporate social responsibility strategies of all gaming operators.

  We do not believe that uncertainty is in the interests of either the consumer or the Industry: therefore, we believe that it is critical that the Government's proposals are implemented quickly via both early deregulation and new primary legislation. We are delighted to see that some deregulation related to Bingo and new Casino games has already been implemented. We look forward to the early delivery of other measures, particularly relating to Gaming Machines Payment Methods, the removal of the 24 hour rule in both Bingo and Casinos and the promised significant increases to monetary limits in Bingo. Additionally, we hope that a Bill in respect of primary legislation can be agreed in time for inclusion in HM the Queen's Speech in November 2003.

  It is critical that the Government's recommendations do not become subject to timetable tension leading to uncertainty which would in turn result in a lack of early investment which is critical to the delivery of the benefits outlined at 3.



  We generally support the recommendations in respect of gaming machines in both the Casino and Bingo environments. However, we feel strongly that within the strictly regulated environment of a casino, that there should be no artificial limit on the number of gaming machines through a fixed ratio to the number of gaming tables (Budd recommendation 57). This should simply be a commercial consideration.


  We support the Government's recommendation that a proliferation of casinos is not in the best interest of anyone and agree therefore that a suitable mechanism is required to prevent an uncontrolled expansion in the number of casinos (see Budd recommendation 37). We would be happy to help the Government further in its ongoing further consideration of this matter.

The National Lottery

  We are encouraged by the Government's conclusion that the allowance of bingo rollovers should be allowed and will not impact on the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. Bingo Clubs make a very significant contribution to the local communities in which they operate which is in our view of major importance but is not quantifiable in the same way as the money raised for good causes via the Lottery.

Protection, Probity and Corporate Social Responsibility

  We would like to re-iterate our full support for the corporate social responsibility recommendations which are inherent within the Government's response. Gala has tangibly demonstrated its leading role in the voluntary establishment of an Independent Charitable Trust and will use its industry position and influence to seek to ensure that the industry fulfills its funding requirements. We are also actively pursuing the development of our corporate social responsibility programmes in line with all of the recommendations.

2 May 2002

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