The Gambling Act 2005 (2005 c. 19) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It mainly applies to England and Wales, and to Scotland, and is designed to control all forms of gambling. It transfers authority for licensing gambling from the magistrates' courts to local authorities (specifically unitary authorities, and the councils of metropolitan borough, non-metropolitan district and London boroughs), or to Scottish licensing boards. The Act also created the Gambling Commission.
The Act gives its objectives as
- preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,
- ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and
- protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Some provisions of the bill faced controversy, particularly in its original form, where it would have allowed eight so-called "super casinos" to be set up. With the Parliamentary session drawing to a close, a compromise was agreed to reduce this to one. Despite a lengthy bidding process, with Manchester being chosen as the single planned location, the development was cancelled soon after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Act also specifically regulates Internet gambling for the first time.
One of the biggest changes was the removal of the "debt of honour" exemption which stopped people from taking legal action over unpaid winnings (which had been law since the Gaming Act 1845). Under the 2005 Act's Section 335 "Enforceability of gambling contracts", punters were now able to take legal action over unpaid winnings in a court of law.
The law permits gambling companies to advertise on television and radio.
The act is wide-ranging including regulation of lotteries. The "no purchase necessary" clause on on-product promotions and semi-legal competitions went, replaced with the so-called "New Zealand Model" where purchase may be a requirement, if the purchase is at the "normal selling price".
The Act, together with regulations and specifications developed by the Gambling Commission, define and in some cases redefine, categories of gaming machines and where they are allowed to be placed.
From 1 December 2014, the Gambling (Licensing & Advertising) Act 2014 contributed several updates to the Act, including a requirement that all off-shore gambling brands apply for a licence from the Gambling Commission and submit to a 15% point of consumption (POC) tax on gross profits.
On 8 December 2020, the UK government announced a review of the act, to "make sure it is fit for the digital age". The announcement included a call for evidence, with a deadline at the end of March 2021.
- The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 362 of this Act.
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