Shadow culture secretary Hugo Swire has accused ministers of putting the
potential revenue to be made from gambling above public health. A report commissioned by the Department for Trade and Industry revealed that gambling would be one of Britains most serious addictions within twenty years.
The author of the report, Professor Orford of the University of Birmingham, was critical of the way Ministers had pushed liberalisation of the industry:
"I don’t think they gave sufficient attention to the public
health aspects of problem gambling, nor did they pay much attention to
whether the public really wanted this relaxation."
Swire warned of the dangers posed by the biggest ever change in gambling law:
"Rather than proceed cautiously, ministers have actively
encouraged the unprecedented growth in gambling that we are currently
witnessing. Ministers have been more interested in the revenue gambling
generates that addressing the related effects on society. In
particular, they have been asleep to the impacts of online gambling."
He petitioned Tessa Jowell to reconsider some of the Conservative proposals – time restrictions for online gambling, and health warnings on adverts.
The Sunday Times leader believes these health warnings should include the message that this industry is so lucrative (annual turnover is approx £53billion) because "the bookmaker invariably wins". It also advocates beefing up the Gambling Commission and looking after problem gamblers better, for whom there is only one residential facility in the country. The column ends on a polite but damning note:
The 2005 Gambling Act had been dubbed by some as a tax on the children of poor people – it is taxi drivers and window cleaners who are lured into the 140 existing casinos and who suffer most from them, not aristocrats and crime bosses.
Like with so many issues, this Labour Government has failed to either consider,
understand, or care about the long-term social consequences of its