Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forOctober 20th, 2004 | back to home

20 October 2004

I cannot understand why this government feels compelled to liberalise gambling laws in this country. I find it extraordinary that the Government would see casinos as a means of regional regeneration. Of course not all the bill is bad – it does ban advertising for online casinos and bans fruit machines from places without proper supervision like takeaways and minicab offices – but it also allows for more and larger casinos.

I can’t cite the relevant research but from what I remember the evidence suggests much of the money spent on gambling comes from the poor and the elderly and it flows to large multinational corporations (if anyone can refer me to hard data on this I would be interested). There are already 400,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in the UK and the Henley Centre suggests this bill could add another 300,000. According to Gamcare for each problem gambler 15 others are affected.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists found serious problems with the bill – in fact the joint committee heard from five groups all opposed to the bill. In addition the NHS’ Health Development Agency has produced an excellent article outlining some of the dangers.

I don’t recall any groundswell of popular enthusiasm for increased gambling being expressed – in fact one poll suggests 90% are opposed to further liberalisation.

I can’t understand why there isn’t more protest around this issue. The Salvation Army has responded to the government’s proposals but while it is criticising the bill it does not seem to be running any kind of online campaign.

To my dismay, not only did there seem not to be an anti-gambling lobby group on the BBC’s iCan site – it provides information on how to run a lottery to raise money for your cause! There’s an anti-gambling bill campaign there now however and I encourage you to join it and if you are in the UK see what your MP says about the bill and lobby him or her to stop it

I just discovered I have a powerful ally on this issue (if a strange bedfellow) the Daily Mail is running a campaign against the gambling bill as well. If you are in the UK you can join their campaign by emailing casino@dailymail.co.uk, giving your name and address, and saying you also oppose the gambling bill.