LABOUR SET TO BACK DOWN OVER HIGH STREET CASINOS
The british government is set to back down on plans to allow casinos to open on the country’s high streets. New rules will prevent venues from opening all but the largest premises. The policy change comes just four months after Labour announced proposals for sweeping liberalisation of the industry. These included relaxing restrictions on opening of new casinos and plans to allow betting shops to become “multi-faceted”, encompassing gaming tables, fruit machines and card tables, as well as traditional sports betting.
But ministers are considering watering down the reforms after MPs complained that they would fuel the habits of problem gamblers.
It is understood that when parliament returns after the summer recess, ministers at the Department of Culture, Media & Sport will look to change plans that would have allowed any bookmaker with 2000sq ft of floor space to become a casino. Instead, they are likely to settle on a figure nearer 10,000sq ft. This will make it more difficult to open casinos in high streets, leaving out-of-town multi-purpose gambling centres to dominate.
Welfare groups, such as Gamcare, which deals with gambling addicts, says serious gamblers will still make the journey to an out-of-town casino, but the change will stop casual punters from walking in off the high street, preventing more people from becoming hooked.
The new Gaming Act is now almost certain to be included in the Queen’s Speech in October 2003, with the first legislative changes expected to come into effect in 2004. The government has already relaxed some rules which do not require legislation. This week, live entertainment will be permitted in UK UFABet casinos for the first time, while food and non-alcoholic drinks can now be sold in betting shops.
Thais nabbed in radioactive gambling scam
A radioactive chemical was painted onto the dice and cards, where it could be detected by an electronic sensor held by a gambler
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thai police have arrested three people suspected of using a radioactive chemical to coat cards and dice designed to help gamblers cheat.
Heehok Termsakdiskul, Paisal Trongchitana and Paisal’s wife, Ladda, were arrested Thursday after police allegedly found game paraphernalia marked with radioactive strontium, police Maj. Surasit Sangaphong said.
The radioactive strontium was painted onto dice and cards, where it could be detected by an electronic sensor held by a gambler, officials said.
Police seized the goods in a Bangkok raid at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which intercepted parcels of the items sent to the United States, Surasit said.
He did not say how many sets of the cards and dice were found or the amount of the chemical confiscated. U.S. officials were not immediately available for comment.
The suspects face charges of possession of radioactive materials without a license, which carries a penalty of one year in jail or a 10,000 baht ($US235) fine.
Suwat Bunnag, an official from Thailand’s Office of Atomic Energy for Peace, said the raided house had been declared a “danger zone” until the hazardous chemicals were removed.