The mismanagement of casino gaming


Not since the mid-sixties has there been so much adverse publicity concerning the management of London casinos as in the past year. The evidence of skimming, junketing, fraud, corruption and the provision of unlawful credit which has emerged in the hearings and subsequent appeals against the closure of casinos owned by Ladbroke's, Coral and Norwich Enterprises (the Victoria Sporting Club, now owned by Playboy Ltd) shows that the mischiefs associated with high-profit casino gaming, which the Gaming Act 1968 was intended to eliminate, have by no means been wholly neutralised. Some malpractise is inevitable, but the extent, duration and systematic nature of these contraventions raise fundamantal questions concerning the capacity of an administraive agency such as the Gaming Board to regulate effectively the aggressive entrepreneurial activity of large companies engaged in maximising profit from the gambling industry. In this comment I will deal with two aspects of this questions and of the events which prompt it; first, Ladbroke's and Coral's concern to maintain their considerable pre-tax casino profits of the mid-seventies in the face of inflation and a dwindling market in the late seventies; and, secondly, the equally assertive attempts by the Gaming Board to both control casino management and to convince and doubters of the necessity for maintaining its extensive powers and of extending them in ceratin cases.

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