§ Mr. David Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend the opening hours of casinos in England and Wales. 791W
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
We have issued a consultation letter to interested parties regarding casino opening hours. Copies have been placed in the Library. At present, casinos must close at 4 am. We propose an extension from 4 am to 6 am (except Sundays) for casinos in England and Wales. Comments are requested by 31 January 2000.
The Gaming Act 1968 imposes restrictions on the hours that gaming establishments may open. Under section 18 of the 1968 Act, casinos must close between 4 am and 2 pm on Sundays. The hours on other days are prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State in respect of casinos in England and Wales. Under the Gaming Clubs (Hours and Charges) Regulations 1984, the opening hours of casinos are currently from 2 pm to 4 am.
The British Casino Association, which represents all casinos in Great Britain, has asked for a change in the law to allow casinos to open until 6 am on Monday to Saturday mornings.
Following consultation with the Gaming Board for Great Britain, we have agreed in principle to the proposed change. Casinos are places for late night entertainment and we see no objection to a later closing time. This change would not affect the current permitted hours during which casinos may serve alcohol—3 am in London and 2 am elsewhere.
Gaming is a reserved subject but some powers to make secondary legislation have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, including gaming hours. The Scottish Executive is embarking on a similar exercise in respect of casinos in Scotland. We would aim to make regulations simultaneously.