Thursday 25 August 2022

We don't need no stinking evidence!

I've written about the 'public health' racket's takeover of gambling regulation for Spiked and a truly risible study published earlier this month.

Having accepted that there is virtually no evidence on which to base population-wide policy, the authors breezily state that it is ‘reasonable to assume that some of the measures used for other public-health concerns could be adapted alongside gambling-specific measures’. Is that a slippery slope you see before you? Why, yes it is.

To find out which policies borrowed from totally different fields might fit the bill, the authors asked 77 experts ‘from our professional networks’. Only 10 of them bothered to reply. They had ‘expertise in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, diet and obesity, and communicable and non-communicable diseases’. But apparently not in gambling.

These 10 people (who remain anonymous) identified no fewer than 103 policy proposals covering a vast range of potential legislation. Some of them are predictable, such as a ban on gambling advertising, a ban on in-play betting and a ban on spread-betting. Some of them are extreme, such as creating a state-owned gambling monopoly and banning the sale of alcohol in casinos. And a lot of them are just weird.

Take, for instance: ‘All gambling products to have plain packaging.’ What does this even mean? What would a plain-packaged fruit machine or roulette wheel look like?

Or: ‘Maximum limit on customers gambling on an operator’s website at once.’ Why?

Or: ‘Tax on wagers proportionate to the risk of harm.’ How do you measure the risk of harm in a wager? Isn’t that just the odds?

Or: ‘Ban all gambling in venues where young or vulnerable people are present.’ How do you define and identify a ‘vulnerable’ person?

And finally: ‘Operators’ duties to rise each year above the rate of inflation.’ Until they all go bust?

It is a bizarre wishlist of half-baked ideas from a group of people who clearly don’t know what they are talking about and have given no thought to whether their ideas can be implemented, let alone whether they would work.


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