Blair: Gambling Bill is about better regulation, protection for children

LONDON, October 25 — UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has backed plans to deregulate gambling laws, as reports had arisen on ministerial misgivings over the proposals.”The vast bulk of this legislation is actually about regulating gambling, not deregulating it,” Mr Blair stated at a news conference in London today. “It’s very important that we modernise the regulation of gambling for today’s world.”

As Tory party leaders said the government was split over the revision of 40-year-old gambling legislation, Blair stressed it would result in few extra casinos and dismissed reports the government was offering tax breaks to U.S. operators as “nonsense” (see articles on the issue: New Gambling Bill – `the most bizarre creation` and UK Gambling Bill: most restrictions will be swept away).

“Ninety percent of the Gambling Bill is about better regulation, better protection for children,” Tony Blair insisted.

“In return for that, we are giving the power to local authorities to grant planning permission for these larger complexes, including casinos, which will probably add about 20 to 40 casinos to the 120 there already are in this country,” UK Prime Minister said.

“Whether we like it or not, we have gambling in this country, but with a series of rules and restrictions which are completely out of date.”

“Ninety per cent of the gambling bill is about better regulation and protection for children, removing slot machines from about 6,000 premises where minors, children, might have access to them.”

Last week a bill proposal was published that could allow giant Las Vegas-style casinos with million-pound prizes to arise across the nation. International casino operators are to invest 5 billion pounds in the UK if the Bill is passed into law.

Conservative party leader  Michael Howard said the government was on “the wrong track” and his party would oppose the Gambling Bill.

In the mean time, a research conducted by NetValue, an Internet usage monitoring company, shows that UK Internet users are primarily interested in porn and gambling websites.

Over a third of Internet users in the U.K. – 3.6 million people – visit adult websites and 40 percent of the top 6,000 sites are X-rated, according to The Register.

Two million Netizens in Britain are now visiting gambling websites, and the number is doubling every four months.

Elsewhere, the research showed there are ten million home Internet users in Britain – an increase of 15 percent over the previous six months.

What’s more, they’re spending even more time on online – up from nine minutes a day in December 1999 to 12 minutes a day in May.

Put these elements together and what have you got? A nation addicted to gambling and sex but able to satisfy their cravings in less time than it takes to heat up a meal?