Augusta’s strict gambling laws could benefit from a relaxed British approach
Georgia’s second largest city Augusta has a history to be proud of and rightly so. Among a whole host of feats it has been home to one of the most famous and exclusive golf tournaments in the world since 1934.
Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods have all emerged victorious from the Augusta masters. If they had wanted to wile way the evening hours by having a flutter online however they would have faced possible jail time.
Georgia, despite being part of one of the most liberal gambling countries in the world is a State beholden to extremely stringent gambling laws. At time of writing there is only one place for Georgia residents to safely, legally gamble – The Emerald Princess Casino.
This cruise boat casino may be enticing for a one off visit because of its sheer quirkiness but it is not exactly conducive to a thriving gambling industry. In this article we cast an eye across the pond to look at the United Kingdom, a country benefitting from a liberal approach to land-based and online gambling.
At the end you must ask yourself whether or not Georgia, and specifically Augusta could benefit from adopting the British approach.
(Tiger Woods is one of the famous golfing names that has helped to raise the world profile of Augusta, but could the Georgian city benefit from the exposure that looser gambling laws would bring?)
Gambling in the UK – The Current State of Play
Believe it or not the British government has always had a fairly liberal outlook towards gambling. In 2005 Tony Blair’s Labour government passed the Gambling Act to law which sought to clarify the legal standing of online gambling.
In the previous 10 years the industry had exploded in line with further internet innovations to a point where it had outgrown the current legislation. The Gambling Act 2005 legalised all forms of online gambling whilst at the same time making it accountable to the newly formed Gambling Commission.
All of the online gambling companies operating in the UK were forced to comply with rules and regulations that made them fair, transparent and responsible. Further to that they were obliged to donate a certain percentage of their revenues to gambling charities, to maintain the welfare of their vulnerable customers.
Around this time Tony Blair’s government also vowed to create a ‘British Las Vegas’ in the north of the country. This was well before Silicon Valley became the go to American aspiration to copy.
Unfortunately for the backer of gambling this plan failed to materialise and at time of writing the UK has just one super casino which is located in the capital London. However the British online gambling industry is thriving.
The relaxation of laws led to new bingo sites, new online casinos and new sports betting sites springing up almost overnight. Nowadays these various websites contribute to a yearly gambling revenue of £5 billion, just under 6 and a half billion dollars.
Does Britain have a problem with gambling?
Most critics of online gambling and gambling in general argue that further legalisation would lead to an increase in problem gambling. In countries such as South Korea the government are so fearful of that outcome that they have banned their citizens from gambling at home and abroad.
However research from the UK suggest that that is not the case. According to extensive research, people with less exposure to gambling are more likely to encounter problems with it in the future.
Whereas those that are accustomed to gambling are less likely to run into problems. In Layman’s terms it is the same concept as allowing a child to eat their favourite confectionaries in moderation.
If a child is used to eating sweets and chocolate they are less likely to over indulge and binge when they eventually come into contact with them. The British research found that almost half of the people in the country (some 65 million) would gamble at least once a year.
Of that figure less than 5% would fall into the category of ‘high-risk gamblers’ with even less of that figure encountering real problems with gambling. It seems that more is less when it comes to British gambling.
Does Britain benefit from gambling?
There are around 11,500 registered gambling establishments in the UK, a figure which includes small gambling shops, casinos and big online companies. Those gambling establishments currently employ 94,600 people.
The number of people in employment thanks to gambling rises dramatically once you factor in the various gambling subsidiaries such as advertising and marketing. In terms of job creation gambling is a major economic contributor for the UK.
The annual revenues of gambling in the country currently stand at £15 billion, which is just under 20 billion dollars. Of that figure, 20% is available to the British government through grants and contributions to gambling charities.
Aspers Casino, the only super casino in the country is also home to some of the most exclusive gambling tournaments in the world. Events that significantly boost the local and national economy, not to mention the prestige that they bring.
Further to that, Britain’s liberal gambling laws have encouraged foreign companies to set up shop in the country. Many foreign online gambling companies that would struggle to obtain a gambling licence in their own country have chosen to base themselves in the UK thanks to the country’s gambling outlook.
All in all Britain is a net benefactor of gambling and is currently banging the drum worldwide for the relaxation of gambling laws. Should Augusta and Georgia follow the example set by the United Kingdom? That’s for you to decide.