Tuesday 15 January 2019

The slippery slope: gambling edition

In an interview with the FT in 2017, casino tycoon Derek Webb announced his plans for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling once the government had stamped out fixed-odds betting terminals.

He adds he may broaden CFG’s focus to target online gambling next. “I want to fight where I can win,” says Mr Webb.

As I recall, he made a similar comment about going after internet gambling at the Conservative Party conference at around the same time.

The FOBT clamp-down takes place in April and the All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs is already looking for new dragons to slay...

The press release says:

The Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has today (14 January) formally announced that it will be changing its name to the Gambling Related Harm APPG.

.. Going forward, the group will now begin looking at gambling related harm more widely.

Carolyn Harris MP, the chairwoman of this lobby group masquerading as an APPG said:

'... many of us are deeply concerned about the harms caused by online gambling and particularly the impact and harm of online gambling on children. We are therefore beginning our new work programme but [sic] undertaking an inquiry looking at the harm caused specifically by online gambling.'

Online gambling is virtually non-existent among children, unless you include kids buying lottery tickets for their parents, so this is another disingenuous think-of-the-children justification for interfering in the lives of adults.

But isn't it a coincidence that the APPG is going after online next, just as Derek Webb said he would? Still, it should go down well with the APPG's selfless donors, such as Bacta, Electrocoin, Sutton Bingo, Club 2000, Southsea Island Leisure, Game World, Summertime Leisure, Hippodrome Casino, Riva Bingo Club, Caesers, Marshalls Amusements, Genting UK, Praesepe and, of course, the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

After the FOBT clamp-down was announced last year, the Independent published a story that explained what had really been going. It was the first time a mainstream journalist had broached the subject...

Why are MPs patting themselves on the back over the FOBTs crackdown? They've been played by the gambling industry

.. [MPs] have failed the very problem gamblers they claim to speak for by jumping on the bandwagon of a debate almost entirely devoid of facts, and which has been heavily influenced by competing gambling industry interests.

Those interests, facilitated, it must be said, by a compliant media, have fed the public a simple morality tale that makes for easy journalism and plays well on social media; a battle fought on behalf of innocent gamblers by plucky politicians against greedy bookmakers.

Will MPs and the media fall for it again?

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