New research released today shows that the UK is potentially missing out on billions of pounds of investment through its over-regulation of the gambling industry. Strict gambling laws are also leading to pub closures and do nothing to reduce the problem of addiction.
In a study published in its termly journal Economic Affairs , the Institute of Economic Affairs shows how other countries are reaping the reward of liberalising their gambling laws, and how relaxing gambling regulation could be the factor which saves many of Britain’s struggling pubs. The study also contends that gambling is over-regulated in the UK because it is seen as purely harmful – the converse is true.
Missing out on economic growth
- Other countries, such as Australia and Macau, have reaped huge financial rewards through liberalising their gaming laws
Macau started granting licences for destination-resort casinos in 2002
- New licensees have spent an estimated $20bn constructing casinos since then
- In less than five years, Macau became the largest gambling market in the world
- In the first six months of 2010, Macau’s gambling revenues rose 66.9% compared with the first six months of 2009. Tourism increased by 17.9%.
- There are no destination-resort casinos in the UK, or EU
- Destination-resort casinos, like those seen in Las Vegas, bring in foreign investment, foreign money and create many side benefits
Currently in the UK, only smaller, ‘convenience’ casinos are allowed
- However they are more likely to simply re-circulate local pounds, primarily from customers who are most prevalently minorities with low incomes.
A lifeline for struggling pubs
- In the early part of 2009, pub closures peaked at 52 per week
Current gambling laws however stop pubs from diversifying their offerings, e.g. by running poker tournaments, and competing with casinos in terms of experience
- Total prize pools are capped at £100, and players are restricted to a £5 stake over a 24-hr period
- It is difficult to ascertain any public benefit from these strict policies. In fact, the only beneficiaries are likely to be casinos who are protected from further competition