Doing good doesn’t always work as expected. A regular who walks into his local pub feels sorry for an old lady who appears to be fishing with a bent stick and line in a rain pool on the side of the road. He invites her for a drink. As she raises her gin and Dubonnet, he asks gently, “How many did you catch today?” “You are the eighth,” she replies.
Imagine a different pub scene. With the lockdown relaxed, the landlord declines the order for three pints of bitter and two G & Ts: “Sorry Squire, but according to my government boozometer, which puts you above your allowable weekly alcohol spending limit of £ 100 . You signed two rounds on Sunday. Records also show two bottles of Prosecco in Pedro’s Wine Bar with a companion last Thursday (did your wife know about it?) And a six-pack of Heineken from Sainsbury’s for Arsenal’s last TV game. ‘
With 7.5 million UK drinkers showing signs of alcohol dependence and an estimated 358,000 hospital admissions per year for alcohol, some are in favor of legal restrictions on alcohol use or spending. But no government would dare risk the kind of excitement in nanny state that would follow tried laws to curb individuals’ spending on alcohol. However, gambling has become a politically fashionable destination.
After succeeding in convincing the government to cut the maximum stakes on betting shop machine bets from £ 100 to £ 2, MPs for the All-Party Gambling Damage group are in full swing. The Gambling Commission, which they describe as “unsuitable”, is reviewing plans to place restrictions on online betting and the introduction of “affordability checks” for online gamblers. The government review of the Gambling Act puts stricter restrictions on gambling advertising. We have the prospect of trying to put a fiver on a fantasy at 2.45 in Hereford, only to have laptops flash a message prohibiting the bet because we already have our “Mabel” (shall we call it) or “Maximum.” Allowed Betting Loss ‘passed’ for the month.
Nobody would deny that there are problem gamblers whose addiction has ruined lives. That is why the NHS has gambling addiction treatment centers and support groups. Bookmakers nervously flood their websites with warnings. However, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has estimated that gambling becomes a problem for only about nine out of 1,000 players. Before stopping a government desperate for approving headlines for tabloids, Tory MPs should consider the implications of restricting the freedom of millions of people to spend their leisure pounds as they see fit to tackle the problem of gambling in this tiny one Contain the minority.
Imagine how much the intrusion into private data will limit bet sizes and how much any player can afford to lose. The Ministers of Inquiry would authorize our personal finances and who we bet with, the massive bureaucracy required. Instead of disclosing their accounts, many would instead head for the unsupervised black market. Like alcoholics who know how to hide bottles in piles of wood or lingerie drawers, gambling addicts who have been denied access to one betting source will soon find another.
What really worries me, however, is that while we can argue about the size of the nut, the apparently favored anti-gambling sledgehammer could do great collateral damage to those who forget it. Many years ago our parliamentarians, who at that time had had a good lunch from the bookmakers, did not opt for a dead monopoly from which the second most watched national sport could be comfortably funded, while the Treasury Department also received a good cut (like in France or Hong Kong)), but to make the finances of racing forever dependent on a levy from the betting industry.
Research by the NHS has shown that only 2.8 percent of those who bet on horse racing are at risk for gambling addiction. Less than 10 percent of television audiences are under 25 (the gambling age group that affects MPs the most). But when the game of chance has a great success by the lawmakers who do good, the race will be hit hardest. High-ranking figures from the British Horse Racing Authority believe that affordability tests at the level under consideration would cost the sport, which is already under massive pressure from Covid, around £ 60 million a year. Meanwhile, significant restrictions on gambling advertising could jeopardize crucial coverage of racing on terrestrial television and reduce media rights revenues.
Horse racing is a £ 4 billion industry that employs 18,000 people directly and supports the livelihoods of 80,000 more. MPs, from whom 13 million voters will flutter in the Grand National, should be aware that the path the anti-gamers are driving the government is not just a previously unthinkable encroachment on people’s right to get their money like this spend as you wish. This means the closure of racetracks and racing yards that cost thousands of jobs in rural areas. Do you really want that?
Gambling has become a politically fashionable destination