EU stymies government casino plan

US gaming giant MGM Mirage has warned that an EU money laundering law, designed to verify customer identities, will jeopardise the introduction of regional casinos to the UK.

The Government is hoping regional casinos will bring in foreign investment and aid urban regeneration. Its proposed Gambling Bill will deregulate the industry, one of the main benefits to casinos being that customers will not have to join 24 hours before being allowed to gamble.

But MGM Mirage European managing director Lloyd Nathan says that an EU directive demands that casinos can identify customers prior to accepting money. This, says Nathan, effectively reinstates the original gaming membership rules.

“We want a large number of people coming through the doors, but the EU is saying casinos need to identity everyone before they enter. This is impossible if you have 15,000 coming into a regional casino on a Saturday night.”

UK casinos, meanwhile, have expressed outrage that the Gambling Bill favours foreign companies over already established operators. Rank commercial director Nigel Sibley says the Government is creating a “very peculiar and uneven playing field” that will greatly disadvantage existing UK operators.

“It is a shame our voice has been disregarded after our history of good work and all the millions in tax we have given over the years. There is increasingly the feeling that all the Government cares about is bringing in foreign investment,” he says.

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