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Blair: Gambling Bill Will Protect Children

25 October 2004

UK – As reported by the Guardian: "Tony Blair today defended the government's controversial gambling bill, denying that it would open the way to a massive expansion in the number of casinos and insisting that it would provide improved regulation and 'better protection for children'.

"The prime minister also joined the head of the American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf, in dismissing the allegation that the government had promised the US industry a cut in the level of tax levied on casinos, calling the suggestion "nonsense".

"'It is very important that we modernise the regulation of gambling for today's world,' Mr Blair told journalists at his Downing Street press conference today. 'Ninety percent of the gambling bill is actually about better regulation, better protection for children, removing slot machines from around about 6,000 premises where children might get access to it.

'And in return for that we are giving the power to local authorities to grant planning permission for these larger leisure complexes, including casinos, which will probably add around about 20 to 40 casinos to the 120 that there already are in this country.'

"Mr Blair's comments come after allegations surfaced in the Times newspaper that government officials promised the US gaming industry a cut in the amount of tax levied on casinos to encourage them to invest in Britain…"

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