PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

GAMING LICENCE DUTY (GAMES) ORDER 1995

Wednesday 15 March 1995

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: MR. NORMAN HOGG

Beith, Mr. A. J. (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Brown, Mr. Michael (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

Clark, Dr. Michael (Rochford)

Conway, Mr. Derek (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury)

Corston, Ms Jean (Bristol, East)

Dicks, Mr. Terry (Hayes and Harlington)

Gale, Mr. Roger (Thanet, North)

Godsiff, Mr. Roger (Birmingham, Small Heath)

Heathcoat-Amory, Mr. David (Paymaster General)

Howarth, Mr. George (Knowsley, North)

Lennox-Boyd Sir Mark (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Mahon, Mrs. Alice (Halifax)

Pearson, Mr. Ian (Dudley, West)

Pickles, Mr. Eric (Brentwood and Ongar)

Renton, Mr. Tim (Mid-Sussex)

Rooney, Mr. Terry (Bradford, North)

Sumberg, Mr. David (Bury, South)

Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry (Bradford, South)

Mr. J. D. W. Rhys, Committee Clerk

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3 Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Wednesday 15 March 1995

[MR. NORMAN HOGG in the Chair]

Gaming Licence Duty (Games) Order 1995

4.30 pm

The Paymaster General (Mr. David HeathcoatAmory): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the Gaming Licence Duty (Games) Order 1995 (S.I. 1995, No. 442). It might be valuable to the Committee if I give a short explanation. On 1 January this year, Home Office regulations came into force allowing certain games to be played in premises licensed under the Gaming Act 1968. In particular, the regulations allow two new games to be played: super pan 9 and casino stud poker. Those new games, because they are not mentioned in section 13(3) of the Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981, are not taken into account when calculating the amount of duty due on a gaming licence. The order therefore brings the tax law into line with the social law by adding the two new games to the list in section 13(3) of that Act. It will come into effect on 1 April, the start of a new licence period and therefore a new accounting period for the casinos.

4.31 pm

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North): The Committee will be relieved to know that I have few remarks to make and that I do not intend to divide the Committee. I give that assurance on the understanding that the games have nothing to do with betting on the outcome of football matches, given the events of the past few days. I understand that it is the intention to add super pan 9 and super stud poker to the list. Could the Minister explain what on earth those games are?

4.32 pm

Dr. Michael Clark (Rochford): Super pan 9 and super stud 9 are, presumably, new games or games that have new names. What is to prevent anyone changing the name of other games or modifying or inventing new games which will require the Committee to assemble again, with all the time that that will consume? What measures does the Minister propose to ensure that there are not constant 4 changes of name requiring further statutory instruments?

4.33 pm

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory: I am grateful for the support of the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth). I confirm that the games have nothing whatever to do with football. I regret that I have not brought a pack of cards with me so I will not be able to demonstrate the new games; I can, however, give a brief explanation. Super pan 9 is a development of punto banco. It is played with packs of cards in which the sevens and the tens are removed. Each card is assigned a numerical value equal to its face value, though picture cards have a value of zero. The object of the game is to have a card total as close to nine as possible. The punters have the opportunity to take the bank in turn. Casino stud poker is a five-card poker game played at a normal blackjack-style table. The punter plays against a bank and enhanced odds are paid on better winning hands. Odds of 2:1 are paid on the player's main bet if his hand consists of two pairs and beats the bank. Those odds can rise to 50:1 for a straight flush and 100:1 for a royal flush. The game can also have an optional progressive jackpot in which several tables can be linked. In answer to the query of my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford (Dr. Clark), casinos are not permitted to play games that are not listed in Home Office regulations. If they were to play a game that did not answer to the description in the regulations, they would be in breach of the regulations. That would be a regulatory matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. If pressure were to arise from the casino industry to bring in a new type of gambling game, the industry would have to persuade my right hon. and learned Friend to alter the regulations, or advise the House to do so, so that the game could be listed in the appropriate regulations. We would then have to come back to add that game to the orders in the way that we are doing now. That is the procedure and it is because the two games are popular and have got past my right hon. and learned Friend that we are adding them to the list of games to make them dutiable.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the Gaming Licence Duty (Games) Order 1995 (S.I. 1995, No. 442).

Committee rose at twenty-four minutes to Five o' clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Hogg, Mr. Norman (Chairman)

Brown, Mr. Michael

Clark, Dr. Michael

Conway, Mr.

Corston, Ms

Gale, Mr.

Heathcoat-Amory, Mr.

Howarth, Mr. George

Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark

Pickles, Mr.

Renton, Mr.

Sumberg, Mr.

Sutcliffe, Mr.