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Internet Gambling

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

9. What progress has been made on measures to regulate internet gambling; and if she will make a statement. (111460)

From September 2007, the Gambling Act 2005 will introduce one of the world’s strictest licensing regimes for remote gambling. New provisions include a duty on operators to act in a socially responsible way. On 31 October 2006, the Government hosted an international summit for more than 30 jurisdictions, and the process of establishing international standards is now under way. There was widespread agreement on further co-operation in several key areas to ensure that gambling remains fair, and that the vulnerable and all those who gamble are protected.

I thank the Minister for that response. But given the addictive nature of the internet and internet gambling in particular, will the Government keep under review the possibility of credit card restrictions, which exist in some countries?

Yes, we considered that issue in our discussions on both national and international regulation. I could not concur more with the hon. Gentleman. This country now has 60 million television sets; 14 million households are connected to the internet; and, on average, we all have a mobile phone. All of those are now platforms for gambling, and that is why it is so important that the legislation comes into effect by 1 September. Those platforms are seeing the real growth in gambling, and the vulnerable people who need to be protected are among their users.

What power does my right hon. Friend have over offshore internet sites, and what power would he like to exercise over them?

We have no power other than our ability to stop those sites advertising in this country. We now have a white list, and those who want to operate in the United Kingdom must comply with its conditions: that we can have access to the information; that their licensing regime is robust and transparent; and the three core conditions, which are that their operation is crime-free, that it looks after the vulnerable, including children, and that it ensures people a fair bet. If they comply with those requirements and are open to scrutiny, they can operate here, but they must be on the white list.