MP Urges Government to Avoid Puritanical Views of Gambling

There are a few weeks left before a draft proposal outlining some of the upcoming changes for the gambling sector in the UK has been published. In light of this review, Minister for Gambling Chris Philip has urged all people involved in the process to approach the issue with pragmatism. In an op-ed piece for Express, Scott Brenton, a conservative MP, laid bare his arguments for why being too restrictive towards the gambling industry would only backfire. He argued that the government should avoid puritanical views of gambling.

Consider the Nuances of Gambling

While an honorable view to uphold and base the industry upon, the realities were much more intricate and complex to allow for an approach that overlooks nuances and what gambling means for the economy and the people involved and employed by it.

So far, the most challenging rumored change is forcing punters to comply with affordability checks. This means that anyone who wishes to participate in gambling would need to prove that they can financially afford it. This measure sounds reasonable and it would make it possible for gamblers to be better protected, but some argue that the solution is too invasive and would make many gamblers reluctant to continue playing.

Instead, gamblers who are not happy with affordability checks may simply choose to switch to unlicensed gambling websites, which are still targeting people in the United Kingdom. In fact, searches for terms such as “gambling websites not on GamCare” are growing, suggesting that many excluded players are looking for alternative and often unsafe options.

Some research seems to suggest that the industry may stand to lose £100 million ($130 million) from affordability checks. However, the limitation of FOBTs to just  £2 was supposed to come with cataclysmic changes in the industry that would have supposedly cost thousands of jobs as foreseen by the Betting and Gaming Council. The reduction of FOBTs limits to £2 more or less coincided with the pandemic more or less, but the workforce from 2019 has remained mostly intact in 2022, with some 100,000 people still employed, although the latest numbers are not yet clear.

Affordability Checks the Most Feared Tool

A study found that the majority of British gamblers are reluctant to volunteer financial details to comply with affordability checks. Some 95% would not consider taking this measure, the study found. Brenton fears that should the government forge ahead with affordability checks, the industry would see many of its high street betting shops close as the first victim, diminishing the return for the Treasury. Even during the pandemic, the United Kingdom collected  £2.8 billion from tax revenue related to gambling operations.

The Treasury, Brenton argued, would not be able to make up for a dramatic dip in the revenue from gambling and needs to tread lightly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.