» Friday, October 22, 2004


Asked for a reaction to a report in today’s Times which claimed that Thomas Baker, the chairman of International Game Technology (IGT), the world’s largest slot-machine manufacturer, had met with officials in Downing Street earlier this year prior to the publication of the Gambling Bill, the PMS said that it wasn’t our policy to comment on individual meetings. That said, it was fair to say that officials would have obviously met people from all sides of the argument, which was a perfectly normal state of affairs. Those meetings would have included representatives from gambling companies, charities and any other interested parties. Asked whom Mr Baker had met in Downing Street, the PMS repeated that it wasn’t our policy to brief on every single meeting that took place. Suffice it to say that Mr Baker had not met the Prime Minister.

In answer to further questions, the PMS said that the story in the Times suggested that the initial gambling proposals had been changed following the meeting with the industry. That was indeed true. However, the changes that had been made had served to tighten up the number of gaming machines that would be allowed in casinos. There had been a suggestion that the larger casinos would be given permission to have up to 2,500 machines on their premises. The legislation had subsequently been changed to reduce that number by half. Asked if she was indicating that the lobby of Downing Street by gambling organisations had failed, the PMS said that she was simply stating the facts. Questioned as to why Mr Baker had had a meeting with Downing Street rather than DCMS officials, the PMS said that discussions would have taken place with both officials from DCMS as well as those in Downing Street who were involved with DCMS matters. There was nothing unusual about that. She repeated that officials had also met with charity representatives and other interested parties. For example, Tessa Jowell had met some of the faith-based organisations who objected to the Bill. Consultation had taken place to take into account the wide spectrum of views on this issue. Asked if Downing Street officials had met representatives from the Salvation Army, the PMS said not as far as she was aware. Put to her that that didn’t seem fair in the light of the fact that the gambling lobby had met No 10 officials, the PMS pointed out that Downing Street officials had heard the views of charity representatives as well as others who were against the proposals. She added that some organisations which might have had concerns about the legislation had expressed positive views on the proposals. For example, Peter Cox, Director of GamCare, had said that he “welcomed the Bill which, for the first time, will give the Government and the Gambling Commission the power to ensure that laws prohibiting minors and others gambling illegally will be properly enforced; that gambling via the internet and other new technologies will be properly regulated; that gambling companies will be required to exhibit a high degree of social responsibility; that the public will be properly educated about the dangers of gambling and that expert professional help is freely available to problem gamblers and their families”. John Carr, Director of the Children and Technology Unit at the NCH, had said, “We are greatly encouraged to see the Government taking the issue of children registering and gambling on line seriously, but brings in a number of vitally important and new protections for children”. Pressed as to whether Downing Street officials had actually met with charity representatives and others opposed to the Bill, the PMS said that she had no intention of briefing on every single meeting that had taken place in No 10 on the issue of gambling. That said, she could reassure journalists that officials from both DCMS and Downing Street had had meetings with people who held very differing views on the proposed gambling legislation, as you would expect them to do. We recognised that this was necessary to ensure that any legislation was workable and to take on board the concerns of all parties.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. You can almost see the pound signs in the governments eyes from all this extra money, and seems like they have been finding out how to milk as much as possible out of people!

    Quote from ms jowel: "People who think they should remain the preserve of the rich; others that find them gaudy and in poor taste; others that don’t want the big investment that will come from the United States"

    (so, more big us companies will be allowed to fleece as many people as they can, and not just the people who can afford it….)

    "They are entitled to those views, but they are not entitled to force them on others."

    (this bit actually made me laugh at the screen when i read it ! hypocracy ? this is in a whole new league…….)

    It seems like after seeing how much our lottery takes, theyre doing all they can to make sure the new casinos will win big, things like being able to drink at the tables, multi million pound jackpots on machines and dropping having to register 24hrs before to join a casino are there to try and get the ‘ordinary’ person to part with as much money as possible and it stinks

    Comment by tony — 24 Oct 2004 on 11:12 am | Link
  2. Big investment from the US?

    Big return on investment for the US – that’s how MGM Mirage et al. make (take) money; they are not charities.

    They will take money out of the UK and back to their US investors. AND not just from the people who can afford it as tony points out. The casinos can’t create jobs without destroying them elsewhere; gamblers are simply spending with casinos and not with some other product or service they would have bought if the casino did not exist.

    Stop children gambling and remove slot machines from fish & chip shops – please.
    Don’t encourage gambling elsewhere. Snobbery has nothing to do with the issue – people’s lives will suffer through an increase in problem gambling – plain and simple.

    Comment by Nick W — 26 Oct 2004 on 5:19 pm | Link

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