New U.K. gambling act activated

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Yesterday marked the beginning of a very different era for poker players in the United Kingdom.

The 2005 U.K. Gambling Act went into effect Saturday, Sept. 1, meaning casinos are more accessible and gambling organizations can buy TV advertisements.

The Gambling Act was originally passed under Tony Blair with the intent of legalizing and taxing online gambling Web sites and regulating them to prevent problem and underage gambling. The requirement of having a membership to play in a casino has also been nixed. Bingo clubs will also be able to roll over jackpots.

Gambling operators will be required to prominently display information about responsible gaming and how to get help for problems.

The bill is meant to serve three main objectives: keeping gambling crime free, ensuring that gambling is open and free and protecting vulnerable adults and children.

Criminals should also take note because they will face a two-year jail sentence if they are found guilty of being a betting cheat.

Originally the gambling bill was set to allow super-casinos in certain areas to help rejuvenate struggling economies but since the act was passed new Prime Minister Gordon Brown has postponed their development. Officially the super-casinos are now "under review" but some are wondering if they will ever indeed open.

The U.K.'s previous gambling laws were considered antiquated and some of them dated as far back as 1845.

Furthermore only 14 online casinos have registered with the commission to run U.K.-licensed sites. Most have remained offshore.

Critics have pegged Brown as anti-gambling and many are questioning how useful the new bill will actually be.

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