The camel-coated brigade


The aim of this study is to look at the way bookmakers, and the gambling industry as a whole, are regulated and the problems that can occur through the lack of regulation in certain areas. 

It is by no means exhaustive but we hope it will act as a catalyst for debate.

“Throughout history, from the pastimes of ancient Pompeii to those of the twentieth century, gaming has presented its appeal to all sections of society and also its inescapable problems.” This statement rings true for all forms of gambling such as betting and lotteries as well as gaming. 

The Law in the UK relating to gambling is in the process of a much needed overhaul. In 2000 the Government appointed Sir Alan Budd to conduct a report into the reform of the UK’s gambling laws. 

The Gambling Review Body was instructed with the task of scrutinising the current legislative and regulatory framework and asked how the law should be changed to bring it up to date with the rapid changes the industry has experienced in recent years. The report was published in July 2001. The Government has taken on board these recommendations and published its key objectives in its response A Safe Bet For Success published in 2002. 

Gambling is a pastime that is enjoyed by many in the UK, three quarters of the population (33 million adults) have taken part in some form of gambling activity in the last year. Gambling is also big business in the UK. A KPMG study found that the total amount wagered on all gambling in the UK in 1998 was over £42 billion, the gross gaming yield from this amount was £7.4 billion. 

A study published in 2001 by the Office for National Statistics showed that non-retired single men spend on average £140 a year on gambling. This equates to 2.5% of all expenditure on travel and leisure. Men in this group spend more on gambling than they do on toiletries and beauty products (50% more). 

Considering the rigorous testing that all toiletries and beauty products have to go through before they are allowed on the shelves, and the fact that men choose to spend more on gambling, their interests should be protected. With the very large sums of money involved it is necessary to ensure that the industry is regulated correctly and that punters are not put at a disadvantage. After all if there was no punter, then there would be no industry at all.

The current laws were first enacted over 30 years ago. No one could have anticipated the changes that would occur over the intervening years to alter the shape of gambling, not only in the UK, but across the world.


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The advent of the internet has meant many changes to the way the gambling industry operates. The internet has provided increased competition and easier access to the market as the provider needs no physical presence to accept bets via the internet. 

In the last five years or so the advent of the betting exchange has shaped the gambling industry. Betting exchanges would not be possible without the internet. 

Many firms chose to set up or relocate their operations to offshore locations to take advantage of the tax benefits. They then offered punters in the UK tax free betting via their website. This prompted the Government to change the way in which bookmakers were taxed to tempt them back onshore.

Many operations that have had solely internet based betting facilities have found it hard to cope in this competitive environment and have subsequently folded, owing large sums of money to punters. These problems could be addressed through increased regulation of bookmakers.

Gambling has always been seen as a way to launder money, but it is perhaps not the most effective. “There are numerous methods of money laundering - the shrewdest criminals tend to use the banking system, and racing is regarded as being one of the least sophisticated systems.” 

In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, money laundering became a big issue because it was clear that the terrorists had been laundering money to finance their regimes. This has prompted the U.S. to try to outlaw online gambling as they see this as a way of money laundering. 



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