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Lord Wade of Chorlton: Perhaps I may make a general point. On the evidence that we took in the Scrutiny Committee, it is clear that the eight regional casinos will not really be casinos. They will be very large hotels with a very wide range of leisure facilities within them. A relatively small part of those very large facilities will be a casino.
They will attract people who will travel some distance with their families for entertainment over perhaps a weekend, three days, or whatever. The general view that came across to the committee was that people would lose, on average, about £50, which they see as the sort of money that they may pay for a dinner or for taking their family to Chester Zooalthough that would cost more than £50. It is part of what they enjoy doing.
However, the really big players will go to the very smart, smaller casinos that will be in the large casino category where the facilities will be nothing but casinos. That is probably where the Government have not quite got it right. In a way, we have restricted the facilities where the biggest amount of money will be gambled. There will be a much greater variety of facilities in those places where people will not be gambling that amount of money, which is where they see gambling as part of a leisure activity.
I understand what my noble friend Lady Buscombe said. The arrangement in the Bill does not represent what the market wants, which is to offer opportunities for high gamblers in the large casinos, and even small casinos, where the facilities are ripe for the big players. Yet, we have ended up with the reverse, where the biggest opportunities to gamble will be where the big gamblers do not go or are less likely to go.
I understand why the noble Baroness is bringing these ideas forward in order to redress that balance. I understand exactly the points made by the noble Lord that the amendments probably take things wider than he would want and, probably, even wider than the industry needs.
On these issues, I ask the Minister to consider my point that something needs to be done to ensure that the balance is right. Although, by and large, I understand all the issuesI do not believe that the Bill has found the right balanceI still believe that there is further to go in the direction that I have identified. If they can be given some consideration, that may address the issues raised by my noble friend and the issues that concern the casino industry.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am grateful for that. I wish that we had had time to reconvene the Pre-legislative Scrutiny Committee to consider these matters. Noble Lords are happy with that idea; they must have really enjoyed themselves. I do not believe
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that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, is right. Nothing in the Bill restricts large and small casinos, as defined, from having non-gaming attractions.
Lord Wade of Chorlton: I probably have not made myself clear. It is not the non-gaming facilities that I want to see in the smaller casinos but the ability to cope with the very high rollers. The high rollers will not go to the big regional casinos, where there are category A machines and opportunities for much higher levels of gambling; they will be more likely to go to the smaller-sized casinos.
Baroness Buscombe: I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wade, on the proposed regional casinos. I visited Las Vegas and I do not remember taking part in any betting. I was there for the leisure facilities and to see the amazing spectacle. When I have, on rare occasions, visited smaller casinos where the high rollers play, I have seen that the focus is on gambling. It seems extraordinary that we are putting category A machines in the huge regional casinos and minimising the different gambling opportunities within the smaller casinos.
This has been an interesting debate. I take on board what the Minister has said. I shall consider it with care and read what he has said in Hansard, particularly in relation to his Amendment No. 233 and to auto roulette. Those are all important issues. In some sense, we are all conscious that time is not on our side. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the fact that the Bill has received pre-legislative scrutiny, noble Lords are quite rightly used to debating all the important, and sometimes not so important, issues on the Floor of your Lordships' House at leisure, but tonight we are very much constrained. I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said and, for now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: I am grateful to the Minister for confirming to the Committee, when debating the Amendment No. 10 group of amendments, that the gambling experience will be separate from other leisure facilities within regional casinos. That was the purpose of tabling Amendment No. 18. I am grateful to the Minister for his clear assurances on that issue.
Lord Greaves: I rise to oppose the Question that Clause 7 stand part of the Bill. That heads a long group of amendments in my name including Amendments Nos. 102 and 107, whether Clauses 149 and 164 stand part, Amendments Nos. 224 and 234, and whether Schedule 9 stands part. It should also include Amendments Nos. 176A and 176B, which I apologise got delayed a day in their circulation in the supplementary list because for some reason the clause and line numbers that I submitted had gone through some sort of random number generator before they got to the Public Bill Office and they were therefore gibberish. They can be taken as discussed.
I have made a fairly rough and ready attempt to remove those parts of the Bill that refer to the new casinosregional, large and small. I do not claim that I have done a proper filleting job on the Bill. I will attempt to do a much better, more efficient and more comprehensive job and bring it back at Report for further discussion. I look forward to that exciting occasion. In the event, I am clearly putting this forward as a probing set of amendments to allow the matter to be discussed.
There are two possibilities. One is that we all meet again on 7 April and then the Bill goes through to Report. The second is that it all ends up in the wash-up. I believe that there is a large body of opinion that large and complex Bills like this going through the wash-up is not satisfactory. The Bill, by and large, is regarded as a good, worthwhile measure and one that has had a great deal of discussion and consideration.
The sections referring to the new casinos, on the other hand, are far more controversial from a number of different points of view. I had an interesting communication this morning from the Casino Operators' Association of the UKthe COAwhich wrote to me as follows:
"There is somewhat of an impasse in negotiations with DCMS. Unless the Government makes concessions in line with our substantial recommendations, we feel that the most prudent next course of action would be to remove the casino sections from the legislation altogether. The Government and the casino industry needs more time to consider the best way forward and it has become increasingly apparent that this will not be possible until after the General Election".
The COA sets out a number of reasons for that, which have essentially been covered and discussed in Committee today, only one of which has been satisfactorily dealt with perhapsthe question of ID on entry. I will not read them all out because they are well known and have been raised from various parts of the House during the debate.
I tend to come from a rather different direction from that of the COA, in believing that, nevertheless, the best course of action would be to take the casino provisions out of the Billparticularly if there is to be a wash-up procedureand for the Government to bring back a new Bill after the election in which these matters can be further discussed.
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As my noble friend said, there are many things in the Bill that we ought to discuss in detail, for which we are not now going to get time. I do not intend to discuss them in detail now, not least because the time for dinner is rapidly approaching. But on the matter of the three new categories of casinos, there is a great deal that needs to be discussed, scrutinised and looked at hard. The Government have not got the system properly sorted out yet. We had a long discussion about regional casinos earlier, but I did not get satisfactory answers from the MinisterI am sorry to tell him that.
The question of advertising is highly controversial, though that is not so much advertising for people to travel in the destination or resort sense to gambling casinos. If people are travelling from London to Edinburgh to visit a big new casino, that is one thing, but whether local advertising is desirable to attract local people inwhether in a big city or a relatively medium-sized place such as a seaside resort, where they may be 60,000, 100,000, 150,000 or 200,000 people living nearbyneeds to be thrashed out properly.
On inducements, there is a lot of evidence from places such as Detroit that providing free food, hotel rooms and transportbuses or trams to visit the casinos if it is Blackpoolcan contribute greatly to addiction and problem gambling. I do not believe that the question of problem gambling as a public health concern in the surrounding areas of the casinos has yet been discussed properly.
I listened with a certain amount of bewilderment to the previous discussion about the interaction between the different permissions that will be needed for casinos. The relationship between the national decision-making process dealing with which places will be allowed to have casinos, which involves the Secretary of State and members of his advisory committeewhoever they turn out to beand the operators licences is fairly straightforward. However, the premises licences and the planning permission for some of the big, controversial proposals have not been sorted out properly. Inevitably, there will be a sense in which national decisions are made, a list of places is drawn up and effectively that will be a fait accompli. The rollercoaster will start and the local planning and premises licence processes will be a matter of biddinghow it will be done, where it will be and what it will be like rather than, "Is this something that we want, yes or no?" That will lead to a huge amount of local public anger and confusion. The process has not been thought out at all.
I do not think that competition with existing local businesses and the local economy has been thought out properly. I do not know whether the Government have produced estimatesthey do not seem to have produced estimates for many things that will be consequences of this Bill.
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