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Session 2004 - 05
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Standing Committee Debates
Gambling Bill

Gambling Bill

Standing Committee B

Tuesday 11 January 2005


[Mr. Peter Pike in the Chair]

Gambling Bill

9.35 am

The Chairman: I am sorry for the delay, but I was not expecting to be in the Chair until 2.30 this afternoon. There seems to have been some misunderstanding in the communications.

Clause 330


Amendment made: No. 238, in clause 330, page 146, line 11, at end insert—

    '''non-commercial betting'' has the meaning given by section [Non-commercial betting],'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Mr. Malcolm Moss (North-East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I beg to move amendment No. 385, in clause 330, page 146, leave out lines 33 to 37.

Happy new year, Mr. Pike. This is a probing amendment. There are apparently three definitions of ''prize'' in the Bill and we believe that that could lead to some confusion and perhaps, down the road, to some litigation in order to interpret the meaning of the word. In particular, we feel that the exclusion of the reference to winnings in clause 61—we tabled an earlier amendment on that—seems unfortunate because the reference to winnings was previously one of the defining elements for distinguishing between gaming and a lottery. The definition of a prize for a lottery should include anything of value, as the present law states.

The Minister for Sport and Tourism (Mr. Richard Caborn): Happy new year, Mr. Pike; let us hope it is a productive one. Perhaps I can explain why there are three separate definitions of the word ''prize'' in the Bill. As we discussed in our very first Committee sitting, and as the hon. Gentleman said, we have modernised some of the definitions in the existing legislation. In doing that, we have worked hard not to leave out any necessary elements. There was a concern that our definition of gaming had left out winnings, but in fact our definition of prize in clause 6 expressly includes winnings at subsection (5). That is our first definition. In relation to gaming, the definition needs to include prizes and winnings, where winnings are the money staked and prizes are things put up in advance by the operator.

Turning to the subject of gaming machines, we want to ensure that people do not evade the limits on what can be won from a machine by claiming that their particular prize is outside the definition. We could simply have put ''money'' or ''money's worth'', but we felt that it was important to be clear that when we are talking about a prize from a machine, we really do
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mean anything that can be won by playing it. Our second definition refers to any moneys, articles, rights or services won.

Lastly, we have provided a separate definition for a prize from a lottery. There is a degree of duplication between the definition of a prize from gaming machines and a prize in a lottery. That is deliberate because in both cases we want to ensure that any sort of benefit is covered. However, importantly, we need to make it clear that where people participating in a lottery put up part of the prize, that does not stop it being a prize. It is not just an independent prize put up by the lottery operator that counts. It is any form of prize offered.

I hope that that explains why we need three definitions of the word ''prize''. We believe that they are needed to deliver that policy. I hope that that explanation is comprehensive, but if it is not and if members of the Committee need more details, I am willing to provide them in writing.

Perhaps I can take this opportunity to draw the attention of Members to a letter that I sent to them correcting one point that arose during the debate on clause 310. In the debate on 16 December 2004, I inadvertently advised the Committee that the Government had offered assurances to Alderney and the Isle of Man that they would be white-listed under subsection (3) of clause 310. In fact, the Government have not yet formed a view on territories to be white-listed. The Secretary of State has received applications from Alderney and the Isle of Man on that issue and those applications will be considered against the criteria that I outlined on 16 December. I am sorry for reporting the position with that slight inaccuracy.

I also apologise for steering off the amendment to give that explanation. I hope that, with my explanation, the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

The Chairman: I was grateful for the Minister's letter. Last night I thought at first that it said, ''a policeman only wearing his helmet.'' However, it did clear up the position.

Mr. Moss: You seem to have started the new year on a good note, Mr. Pike. You have had the letter; I have not. Opposition Members have not received it yet. It is obviously winging its way to us by the usual pigeon post.

I am grateful to the Minister for his helpful explanation. The area is a complicated one and it might be helpful to Committee members if he wrote to us, setting those matters out so that they are put on the record. Those expressing concern would then have that in black and white. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 24, in clause 330, page 147, line 39, leave out 'entering' and insert 'participating in'.

No. 363, in clause 330, page 146, line 43, at end insert

    '''pub gaming machine permit'' has the meaning given by section [Pub gaming machine permits],'.—[Mr. Caborn]

Column Number: 689

Mr. Moss: I beg to move amendment No. 386, in clause 330, page 148, line 14, at end insert—

    '(d) shall include betting as referred to in section 9.'.

Again, I shall be brief. Clause 9(1)(a), referred to in the amendment, deals with making or accepting a bet on the outcome of a race or ''other event or process''. Clause 330 refers to a virtual game or other event or process. It is rather unclear whether that refers to games or virtual events and virtual processes. The clause should be clarified in the way that our amendment suggests so that the meaning is clear.

Mr. Caborn: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is important to be clear that betting on virtual events is permitted under the Bill. During the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the contribution that products such as virtual greyhound racing make to the bookmakers business. It is certainly not the intention of the Bill to deprive them of legitimate betting product. However, the amendment is quite unnecessary. Clause 9 states clearly that betting can take place on the outcome of any event or process, which includes the outcome of a virtual event.

Other provisions in the Bill expressly refer to betting on virtual events. Clause 64 expressly states that holders of the casino and general betting operating licence may apply facilities for betting on virtual events. That is well complemented by clause 164, which ensures that holders of casino and betting premises licences are able to make available facilities for betting on virtual events. In light of that, I believe that the amendment is unnecessary and I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.

Mr. Moss: I am grateful for the Minister's explanation and on that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 330, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 331 and 332 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 333

Amendments and repeals

Amendment made: No. 32, in clause 333, page 150, line 4, at end insert

    '(subject to the Note to that Schedule).'.—[Mr. Caborn]

Clause 333, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 13

Minor and consequential amendments

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 412, in schedule 13, page 195, line 8, at end insert—

    A1 In section 44 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 (refreshment houses)—

    (a) omit '', or knowingly suffer any unlawful games or any gaming whatsoever therein,'', and

    (b) in the heading, omit '', or gaming''.'.

Column Number: 690

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 415, in schedule 14, page 199, line 6, at end insert—

    'Metropolitan Police Act 1839 (c.47)The words '', or knowingly suffer any unlawful games or any gaming whatsoever therein,''.'.

Mr. Caborn: The offence of knowingly suffering unlawful gaming or gaming in refreshment houses in London is superseded by the provisions in the Bill. The amendments add this part of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 to the list of repeals that will be necessary following the enactment of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

9.45 am

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 413, in schedule 13, page 196, line 9, leave out 'or bingo premises licence' and insert

    ', bingo premises licence, adult gaming centre premises licence, family entertainment centre premises licence or betting premises licence'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 414.

Mr. Caborn: Paragraph 7 of schedule 13 refers to section 40 of the London Local Authorities Act 1995, which enables London's local authorities to grant alcohol licences for near-beer premises. To qualify for a near-beer licence, alcohol can be sold only if it is to be consumed on the premises and the operator must provide companions for customers or light entertainment; I am not sure what that means, but we might find a definition. Premises licensed under part 2 of the Gaming Act 1968—casinos and bingo clubs—are excluded from that regime. We are extending the provision to include adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres and betting offices. Such premises currently do not serve alcohol but there is nothing to prevent them from seeking a near-beer licence if they wish to do so. The amendment would close that loophole.

Amendments Nos. 413 and 414 are necessary to ensure that adult gaming centres, family entertainment centres and betting offices will be excluded from the near-beer licence regime.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 414, in schedule 13, page 196, line 10, after 'Part 8' insert

    ', or a family entertainment centre gaming permit under section 231,'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Schedule 13, as amended, agreed to.

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