The culture secretary has said there is a „consensus“ of support for tough regulation of internet gambling. Tessa Jowell was speaking ahead of addressing an international summit at Ascot racecourse on Tuesday on the growing industry and associated problems such as addiction.
She said that the government would not go down the American route of „prohibition“ by banning credit card companies from paying online casinos. „In relation to gambling, you have three choices – you allow the market to rip, which some jurisdictions do; you prohibit, which some jurisdictions do; or you regulate,“ Jowell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
„The risks of prohibition, I think, are very well established. Our concern is that if internet gambling were to be prohibited, it would be driven underground, and precisely the kind of protections that we want to extend to people would be impossible.“
She said that Britain’s regulatory approach had won support from organisations working with gambling addicts, as well as the industry. „I think the industry realises that, if they want to be accepted in this country, they are going to have to live by very high standards of social responsibility that we are going to require as conditions of licences,“ Jowell claimed.
But she acknowledged that more support would be needed for the increasing numbers of people gambling online. „This is a very important debate,“ the minister said. „More people are gambling. What we have to ensure is that, as more people gamble, we don’t see an increase in the number of people suffering from addiction.
„This will be part of the drive that we’re trying to create – better informed gamblers but also online gambling companies that are prepared to sign up to very tough codes of social responsibility, and they in turn benefit from the reputational benefits that come with agreeing to operate within that kind of framework.“