Gambling Bill

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Schedule 14


Amendments made: 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,''.'.

No. 33, in schedule 14, page 200, line 36, at end insert—
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'National Lottery etc. Act 1993 (c. 39) Section 2.
Section 18(1) to (4).
Section 45.
Section 46(3).
Sections 47 to 59.
In Schedule 1, paragraphs 1 and 2.
Schedules 7 to 9.'.

No. 34, in schedule 14, page 201, line 14, at end insert—


The repeal of section 2 of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 shall not extend to Northern Ireland.'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Schedule 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 334 and 335 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 15


Mr. Caborn: I beg to move amendment No. 418, in schedule 15, page 202, line 1, after 'use', insert

    ', or could lawfully be used,'.

This drafting amendment is relevant to our new casino policy, which we will discuss in detail later. It refers to paragraph 3(a) of schedule 15, which enables the commencement order bringing into force part 8 of the Bill to include transitional provisions allowing casinos that are already operating when this part of the Bill comes into force to continue to do so.

Amendment No. 418 extends that provision to premises for which a premises licence has already been issued, whether or not a casino has begun to operate there. A licence holder under the current Gaming Act 1968 will still be able to operate as a casino after the new regime comes into force, even if it has not begun operating by then. That will avoid penalising operators who, for a wide variety of practical reasons, may not have their casinos up and running before this part of the Bill commences.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 336


Amendment made: No. 410, in clause 336, page 150, line 33, after '40,', insert —

    '( ) section 310,'.—[Mr. Caborn.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con): I do not intend to detain the Committee too long, but I want to establish on the record whether there is the potential for confusion if an operator is based in Northern Ireland. I am particularly concerned with subsection (2). Unlike subsection (1), it states:

    ''The other provisions of this Act shall extend only to—

    (a) England and Wales, and

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    (b) Scotland.''

I assume—that is always dangerous, but particularly with this legislation—that that means that the other provisions to which the subsection refers would be relevant if an operator is based legally in Northern Ireland but has associated or linked operations in England, Wales or Scotland. I would be most grateful if the Minister clarified exactly the nature and scope of how the provisions will operate if a company that is legally based in Northern Ireland does or does not have direct or indirect operations in England, Wales or Scotland. I would be most grateful if the Minister assisted us.

Mr. Caborn: The Bill applies to Northern Ireland on only two counts. The first is chain-gifting, which will become an offence in Northern Ireland under clause 40, and the second is the repeal of sections 9 to 9B of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981. Gambling regulation is devolved to Northern Ireland, but it was agreed that those two matters should be extended to cover the whole of the UK. If a Northern Ireland operator had premises in Great Britain, they would need an operating and a premises licence to operate in Great Britain.

Mr. Prisk: If I might follow that up briefly, it seems that there is a differential in the regulatory burden for operators who are based in Northern Ireland. I am aware that this was generally established at the beginning of the deliberations on the Bill, but there seem to be some avenues for confusion. I am slightly concerned that the Bill's application may get caught up between the two regions and lead to uncertainties among operators.

Can the Minister assure the Committee that the Department has considered the matter with great care and that it will ensure that there is no confusion about the detail of the Bill's implementation? Under subsection (1), clauses 40 and 319 relate to Northern Ireland, but the other clauses do not. I hope that he will be able to assure the Committee that that will be made crystal clear in the way the regulations are applied, as there is an opportunity for confusion, which could lead to all sorts of other problems as well.

Mr. Caborn: I take on board what the hon. Gentleman says. I shall ask my officials to ensure that there is no ambiguity. The position is actually the same as what we have today—the status quo prevails—but I hear what he says. I do not believe that there is any dispute with what we are trying to achieve. He simply wants to ensure that the Bill is crystal clear. I shall ask my officials to reflect on that and determine whether we can make it any clearer.

Mr. John Whittingdale (Maldon and East Chelmsford) (Con): To satisfy my curiosity, I understand that the vast majority of the Bill is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland. The Minister picked out two clauses that will apply in Northern Ireland, one of which is about chain-gifting. I am as concerned about chain-gifting as everyone else, but many other matters are of equal concern; for example,
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internet gambling, which we spent some time debating. Why has chain-gifting in particular been selected for application in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Caborn: I was going to give my own answer, which is that things can be posted in Northern Ireland. Chain-gifting has been brought in as a new criminal offence to protect the public on a reserve matter. That is why it has been singled out. The hon. Gentleman knows that it was the subject of much concern on the Floor of the House before the Bill was introduced, and I gave a commitment from the Dispatch Box that we would examine the matter seriously, and that is what we have done. That is why we have extended the provision to Northern Ireland.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 336, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 337 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Pike. I want to refer to what the Minister helpfully said by way of correcting a wrong impression he had given, inadvertently, in response to me on 16 December. While the Minister was speaking, I did not have the chance to look back at what was said in Hansard, because I was not expecting him to provide that correction date. Having done so, I wonder if he, having corrected what he said about Alderney and the Isle of Man and apologised, for which I am grateful, will clarify whether his undertaking to me and the Committee in the short debate on my amendment to clause 310, in which he said that the Government will table a specific amendment on Report to clarify the position of Gibraltar, still stands? I would be grateful if he confirmed that on the record.

Mr. Caborn: Yes.

New Clause 1

Consultation with Commissioners of Customs and Excise

    '(1) If in the course of the exercise of its functions the Gambling Commission becomes aware of a matter about which the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are likely to have an opinion, the Gambling Commission shall consult the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.

    (2) The Gambling Commission shall comply with any direction of the Secretary of State (which may be general or specific) to consult the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.'.—[Mr. Caborn]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 2

Prosecution: time limit

    '(1) A magistrates' court may try an information for an offence under this Act provided that the information was laid within the period of twelve months beginning with the date (or last date) on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

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    (2) Section 127(1) of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 (c. 43) shall not apply to an offence under this Act.'.—[Mr. Caborn]

Brought up and read the First time.

10 am

Mr. Caborn: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause will extend from six to 12 months the time limit for bringing prosecutions of summary offences under the Bill. The time limit for laying any information for a summary offence is set out in the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980. The limit is six months, which may not give the gambling commission or the licensing authorities sufficient time to investigate an offence adequately and take the decision to prosecute. The gambling commission may need to monitor a premises over a period if it suspects that money laundering or serious fraud is being committed. The six-month period is too limiting for that.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 3


    '(1) Entering the National Lottery is not gambling for the purposes of this Act (despite section 3(c) but subject to subsections (2) to (4) below).

    (2) Entering the National Lottery is gambling for the purposes of—

    (a) section 39, and

    (b) section 314.

    (3) Where entering the National Lottery would also constitute gaming within the meaning of section 6, it shall be treated as gaming for the purposes of this Act if and only if a person entering the lottery is required to participate in, or to be successful in, more than three processes before becoming entitled to a prize.

    (4) Entering the National Lottery shall not be treated as betting for the purposes of this Act where it would—

    (a) satisfy the definition of pool betting in section 12, or

    (b) satisfy the definition of betting in section 9 by virtue of section 11.

    (5) Schedule [Amendment of National Lottery etc. Act 1993] shall have effect.'.—[Mr. Caborn]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

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