A group of MPs, Lords and clergymen have written to the Daily Telegraph to ‘demand’ the government takes “bold” action in its gambling review.
More than 160 members of the elite Westminster circle, including Iain Duncan Smith and no fewer than 18 bishops – whose very own institution is currently undergoing an inquiry into child sexual abuse, have warned that 55,000 children aged 11-16 were now gambling addicts. While that figure is not supported by Gambling Commission evidence, the emotive posturing comes with some radical, and it must be said, invasive demands.
“We are calling on the prime minister to be bold in delivering the gambling reforms needed to prevent harm across the country,” the group wrote, as it listed the key measures it wants enforced on the betting industry. Top of the list is online limits imposed on stakes, in line with those applied to land based bookies. They also call for stringent penalties with the threat of businesses losing their licence for failure to apply the limits, which should, they insist, be set at £2.
More controversial, and politically inflammatory, is the call for a £100 per month spending limit and a strict application of affordability tests for UK gamblers. This particular call has already been criticised by civil rights campaigners as an intrusion into personal freedoms, but it’s a kite the parliamentarians are keen to fly and have done so since the radical left wing think tank the Social Market Foundation devised the concept.
The Westminster grouping also argue that the “immoral” VIP schemes operated by bookmakers should be banned.
Music to the ears of the very vocal anti-gambling campaigners, the letter was less melodic to those around King Edward Court where Entain PLC, owner of Ladbrokes, and Flutter Entertainment PLC, owner of Paddy Power, saw their shares slip on the stock exchange by almost 5 percent and 2 percent respectively.