HL Deb 13 November 1997 vol 583 c53WA
Baroness Turner of Camden

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they intend to take to prevent frequent lottery draws in pubs and other premises.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The Government have given careful consideration to the issues raised by frequent lottery draws in premises. The Gaming Board has expressed serious concern to the Government about plans by a company which runs lotteries on behalf of charities under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 to run frequent on-line lotteries in a range of outlets, including pubs and clubs. The 1976 Act did not contemplate on-line lotteries, and therefore does nothing to prevent them. The use of on-line technology would allow the promotion of successive large scale lottery draws, in a series running through the day, simultaneously in a large number of different outlets.

Such rapid draw lotteries would have many of the characteristics of hard gambling. Their thus unrestricted availability to the public in high street and neighbourhoods raises serious issues of gambling control. Such a development in pubs where, of course, alcohol is available, and other public places, would undermine the long-standing policy, which this Government fully support, that the harder forms of gambling should be confined to premises specially licensed for gambling and with appropriate controls. Under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 the then Secretary of State for National Heritage used his powers to direct the Director General of the National Lottery not to license games which encourage excessive participation. The director general himself has made it clear that he does not consider that rapid play lotteries are an appropriate development for the National Lottery. However, the 1976 Act needs to be strengthened to give sufficient protection in the case of other lotteries.

We therefore propose to introduce legislation to amend the 1976 Act to restrict frequent lottery draws. The measure, which will be introduced in Parliament as soon as possible, will not interfere with existing conventional lotteries run for charitable or other purposes. It will only restrict new forms of rapid draw lottery. The Government recognise that these lotteries could raise additional money for charities but, given the social risks, we do not consider that the new type of lottery would be an acceptable development. Since this will be primary legislation, those with an interest will have every opportunity to put their points of view in Parliament on the principle and the detail. We are also proposing to publish the legislation in draft form to allow interested parties a few weeks in which to make any representations. We have placed in the Library an explanatory document which sets out the position in more detail.