gambling

Gambling companies feed on addiction and misery. Why are MPs helping them? – The Guardian

Summary

The Blair government’s 2005 liberalisation of gambling laws was intended to be a two-sided deal. Regulation of gambling firms would be overhauled and liberalised, and in return they would operate as businesses within the UK, pay tax and be subject to domestic regulation. The gambling firms had other ideas, and moved offshore anyway – where they set up in tax havens like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.

The Gambling Act might have been intended to …….

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The Blair government’s 2005 liberalisation of gambling laws was intended to be a two-sided deal. Regulation of gambling firms would be overhauled and liberalised, and in return they would operate as businesses within the UK, pay tax and be subject to domestic regulation. The gambling firms had other ideas, and moved offshore anyway – where they set up in tax havens like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.

The Gambling Act might have been intended to turn Britain into the gambling hub of Europe, but it succeeded only in making us a leader in the amount of money we lose. We continue to export billions to gambling operators offshore, and with it jobs and corporation tax revenue. We then effectively import the cost of gambling harm, which Public Health England estimates to be £1.27bn a year. This exploitative mess has no upside for the country.

After Geoffrey Cox landed in hot water following revelations he worked for a tax haven and against the interests of the British government, details emerged of 19 Conservative MPs and nine Labour MPs who received gifts and hospitality totalling £225,000 in the past year. Much of this came from tax-avoiding online gambling corporations. This has led to questions about whose interests these MPs are serving.

That the gambling industry is keen to maintain relationships with MPs is no surprise. The government knows the industry is in dire need of reform. It is in the middle of a comprehensive gambling review, which has pledged to put consumer protection at its forefront. Our understanding of gambling-related harm, its causes and the practices of the online gambling sector should leave policymakers far better placed to legislate than in 2005, when the industry was in its relative infancy and smartphones weren’t yet widespread.

The gambling industry needs all the friends it can get, given that the sector it represents has spent more than a decade alienating people. The House of Lords gambling industry select committee found that 60% of the industry’s profits came from the 5% of customers who were either problem gamblers or at risk.

But this business model, built on a section of customers losing way more than they can afford and finding new gamblers once they’ve lost everything, is obfuscated by MPs friendly to the gambling lobby, who often resort to “paint by numbers” libertarian rhetoric around not telling people how to spend their leisure time.

It sadly remains the view of government that gambling is more of a leisure activity than a public health issue, although the two are not mutually exclusive. However, when the Social Market Foundation suggested affordability checks if someone wanted to deposit more than £100 a month, or the Gambling Commission consulted on checks taking place at …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/16/mps-online-gambling-companies-health-at-risk-problem-gamblers