This is a sponsored post by Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling (CFG) and Stop the FOBTs.
There is not enough space in this article to fully explain all aspects of the misleading commentary in the recent ConservativeHome article from the Association British Bookmakers (ABB). But as the bookies make assertions against me and my campaign (CFG) then let’s start there.
The ABB says the CFG is a “privately funded company owned by a Las Vegas-based tycoon strongly linked to the casino industry”.
The reality is that CFG is not a company – or a charity – I am not looking for tax breaks. I am based in Las Vegas and London. I have no strong links to the casino industry and I am not a tycoon.
The ABB says “CFG has hypocritically called for tax cuts for the casino industry and argued against any limit on numbers of casinos in the UK”.
The reality is that I responded to a Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry in 2012 that was looking at all aspects of the impact of the 2005 Gambling Act. This committee made casinos a focus as it visited Macao and Australia to look at casinos there. I never advocated for super-casinos. I am not anti-gambling but I am for sensible enforcement of sensible regulation, and a sensible tax policy. Casino games should not be prohibited, but should be confined to casinos which pay far higher rates of gambling tax, employ more staff and are more highly regulated than betting shops. There is nothing hypocritical about being able to differentiate between the most regulated form of gambling – bricks and mortar casinos – and the most addictive, harmful and economically damaging form of gambling – FOBTs.
The ABB says CFG’s “spokesperson is Jeremy Corbyn’s former media adviser”.
The reality is that “social justice” should cut across all political parties. Matt Zarb-Cousin recently explains his reasons for opposing FOBTs in a very telling article in the Independent: Fixed odds betting terminals nearly cost me my life”.
The ABB says “Quoting Newham council is surprising choice as Newham receives a dividend from the Super Casino”.
The reality is that it is not a super casino. The Daily Mail and Gordon Brown prevented any super casinos, but not enough attention was paid to the more harmful FOBTs and remote gambling sectors. There is a proposal headed by Newham Council under the Sustainable Communities Act (SCA) to reduce the FOBT stake to a £2 maximum.
The SCA was a Private Members’ Bill put forward by Conservative MP Nick Hurd. The Newham proposal is having greater support than any prior proposal and has been delayed longer than any prior proposal. Under the terms of the Act, the Government must try to accommodate the proposal. Conservatives with a genuine interest in localism should be pushing for a £2 maximum FOBT stake.
ResPublica supports CFG and will soon be issuing a report on FOBTs. ResPublica and CFG will be holding a drop-in event in Westminster, an event at conference and a subsequent private round-table event.
Conservative Parliamentarians have a chance to show they are not in thrall to the commercially-motivated lobbying of predatory corporations by supporting the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), ResPublica, Newham and supporting local authorities, the Synod of Bishops of the Church of England, the Royal Society for Public Health, the APPG on FOBTs and the majority of the public.
Anther attack on the CSJ Report comes from Christopher Snowdon of the IEA, which relies on the dirty funding of fossil fuels, tobacco and maybe the bookies? The sham libertarian capitalist values of the IEA should be anathema to anyone trying to handle all the issues that this Government faces. Tracey Crouch at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and Prime Minister Theresa May, will appreciate parliamentarians who support the £2 maximum stake on FOBTs.