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27 Nov 21 19:59
Date Joined: 18 Feb 02
| Topic/replies: 3,439 | Blogger: mrcombustible's blog
senior writer Lee Mottershead on the campaign to introduce state surveillance

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UPDATED 7:38PM, NOV 27 2021
The House of Lords was not exactly full on the afternoon of Friday, November 19.

Parliament's unelected upper chamber was close to completing its debate on the second reading of the Coroners (Determination of Suicide) Bill. Only 14 members were occupying the famous red benches, one of them being Baroness Scott of Bybrook, who rose to her feet at 2.07pm, dressed entirely in blue, fittingly for a government whip in Boris Johnson's Conservative administration.

She began by congratulating Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, on securing this latest stage in the passage of his bill. As a long-time critic of the gambling industry, including as vice-chair of Peers for Gambling Reform, it was understandable the bishop was using his position in the house to discuss the subject and, in particular, his belief that a coroner or inquest jury should be required to record gambling addiction in relation to an applicable death by suicide.

One of the early contributors to the debate was Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, a former law lord and justice of the Supreme Court. He prefaced his comments by noting: "I bring to this debate very little expertise about gambling." From that position of having minimal knowledge of the subject, he then declared: "I recognise that gambling is a huge attraction to some – a craving, an addiction and, in truth, a cancer in our society today."

What Lord Brown said might have raised at least some of the eyebrows occupying the chamber, yet there was no great need to be concerned by the apparent sensationalism in the commentary of a crossbencher. The voice of the government, surely more balanced and nuanced, was also soon to be heard.

Baroness Scott duly explained why there were enormous complexities in determining what had caused an individual to take their own life. The government, she advised the bishop, could not support his proposed legislation, yet she prefaced her response by making a statement with which the right reverend would most definitely have agreed.

"At the outset," said Scott, "I have to say that the government are absolutely determined to prevent gambling-related harm and suicide. Gambling is one of our society’s major ills. It causes untold misery and distress to countless families across this land."

According to the baroness, gambling is "one of our society's major ills". She had not homed in on problem gambling. She was talking in a more general sense about gambling, an activity that can encompass the purchase of a lottery ticket, a night at the bingo or a £1 each-way bet on the Grand National.

It was a remarkable view for a member of the government to express, yet although alarming to hear, such comments are so commonplace they no longer even shock.

A powerful and influential coalition has formed that accommodates some of the strangest bedfellows. It features politicians who would normally never agree on anything; it has advocated policies applauded by the Daily Mail and equally so The Guardian; it has been embraced by health professionals, academics, regulators and clerics.

What unites those on board the campaign is the conviction that gambling should now be treated as a serious public health issue, analogous to the consumption of tobacco.

They want to impose significant restrictions on those who enjoy betting. They want to challenge hitherto untouched freedoms. If successful in their ambitions, anyone wishing to place a wager of any nature would be subjected to affordability checks and left with no choice but to permit inspection of their financial dealings by an ombudsman empowered by the state to decide whether or not they should be allowed to spend money on betting.

This all matters now. The government is poised to set out its plans for the future of gambling in the United Kingdom either before Christmas or soon after. Figures on both sides of the debate agree on one thing: what is proposed in the next stage of the gambling review could unleash the biggest regulatory changes in a generation.

An unlikely alliance

Bookmakers used to be seen as pantomime villains. They were bracketed alongside estate agents, journalists and second-hand car dealers, figures you loved to hate. Of course, you did not really hate them, for unless personal experience influenced your thoughts, there was no need for enmity. It's not like that now.

Gambling has increasingly been uttered by some as though it is a dirty word. It is hard to believe that at any other time a government minister would have addressed either house of parliament and described a perfectly legal pastime as one of society's major ills. Indeed, the late Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary responsible for the 2005 Gambling Act that is currently being reviewed by government, accused some of those who railed against her liberalisation of gambling laws as guilty of "a whiff of snobbery".

So what changed?

The nature of betting has changed as bookmakers have added remote business to their offerings
The nature of betting has changed as bookmakers have added remote business to their offerings
Gambling certainly changed. Once upon a time the idea of a bookmaker conjured up a different sort of picture in people's heads. They might have imagined Honest Sid, shouting out the odds from a wooden box at Kempton Park. The bookmaker was real. That caricature no longer exists in the public consciousness.

The industry has undergone a corporate revolution. The once personal has become largely impersonal, not least through the advent of the internet and remote betting. Where there was mainly just bookmaking, there is now gaming. The two things are very different but are often conducted by the same businesses. As such, they are seen by many as the same thing, deserving of the same disdain – and few things have provoked as much fury (or as many travails for the industry) as fixed-odds betting terminals, whose numbers in betting shops increased significantly as a result of the 2005 legislation.

Yet the machines are now heavily regulated, with maximum stakes brought down from £100 to £2 in April 2019. The battleground has shifted to include other forms of betting, the extent to which individuals should be free to bet as they choose, and the right of gambling companies to advertise.

Gambling industry commentator Dan Waugh, a partner at global strategic advisory business Regulus Partners, says: "The change in tone might be partly down to a shift from betting being a physical, in-person experience to something more virtual and less dependent on human engagement. The rise of remote gambling has changed the way the public at large perceives betting – and, on balance, not in a good way."

An insider perspective is provided by gambling reform activist Matt Zarb-Cousin, himself a recovered gambling addict.

"There is a very difficult balance to strike," says Zarb-Cousin. "Many people enjoy gambling and don't have a problem. However, I don't think it's something that should be actively promoted – and I believe many people feel uncomfortable about the types of product that are the most heavily promoted, primarily casino products and slots.

"If you sign up to gamble on racing or sport you get cross-sold those other products. For me, that conflation of bookmaking with gaming products is where the line was crossed. That happened to an extent with fixed-odds betting terminals but it was mainly driven by the remote sector and its advertising."

Zarb-Cousin is also a prominent left-wing political activist, having been a spokesperson for former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The latter's long-time deputy Tom Watson was an early critic of the gambling sector within Labour's ranks. With Watson now on the payroll of Flutter Entertainment – parent company of Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet – that flag within the party is most enthusiastically waved by Swansea East member of parliament Carolyn Harris.

Ideologically, there would not be much to unite Harris with fellow MP and one-time Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith. What brings them together is a conviction that those who bet need to be more closely watched. 

Harris is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, an organisation that even has its own impressive website. Duncan Smith, very much towards the right wing of Tory thinking, is one of the vice-chairs. The two also joined forces in May to endorse a report produced by the think-tank Duncan Smith created, the Centre for Social Justice. The report's recommendations – about which more later – have the capacity to devastate the gambling and horseracing industries if ever implemented.

Politicians are only one of the main groups of players in the movement to shackle gambling. Together, they espouse that gambling is one of the leading public health issues of our time. Not surprisingly given that line of attack, among the most strident critics of gambling have been high-profile figures in the public health sector, including Clare Murdoch, NHS England's National Mental Health Director, and Henrietta Bowden-Jones, spokesperson on behavioural addictions for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and founder of the National Problem Gambling Clinic.

The end result is an ever more powerful, and similarly successful, lobbying alliance. Crucially, it does not struggle to get its opinions expressed in the media, with extensive coverage provided by the Daily Mail's Tom Witherow and Rob Davies at The Guardian, which in February plans to publish a book by its reporter that promises to expose "the sinister inner workings" of the gambling industry.

"Public health itself has become an industry and is therefore constantly looking for new areas to become involved," says Waugh. "Public health is progressively working its way through all areas of consumption and consumerism – seeking to exert control over what we eat, what we drink, how we spend our spare time and how we get our kicks. Everything has come together to create a perfect storm."

Matt Zarb-Cousin has been one of the most prominent members of the campaign for significant gambling reform
Matt Zarb-Cousin has been one of the most prominent members of the campaign for significant gambling reform
Explaining how and why such a strange cast of characters has come together, Zarb-Cousin adds: "This is one of those unusual issues that cuts across political lines and it's interesting how it's united left and right. When reform proposals are put forward, different groups have different views, but I do think a consensus has developed around what types of reform are needed.

"I suppose it can look coordinated but, in my opinion, it's more about the strength of ideas and there being a natural consensus around what needs to change."

The nature of some of the desired changes is seismic.

State surveillance

On May 17, 2021, Duncan Smith's Centre for Social Justice published a report entitled: 'Not a Game: A call for effective protection from the harms of gambling.'

On its front cover was a picture of three young people sitting around an equally young man who is shown with his head in his hands. It is not a happy scene.

In his foreword to the report, Duncan Smith does not mince words, telling readers: "The gambling industry now poses a very real threat to our communities and the time has come to get a hold on this pernicious addiction which has such a strong connection to social problems, including drug and alcohol addiction, debt, family breakdown and crime."

The CSJ's remedy is one based on Big Brother-like state surveillance of those who bet.

It pushes for the introduction of affordability checks, whereby an individual's ability to place any sort of bet would rely on a government-appointed ombudsman agreeing that the person should be allowed to spend the money in the way he or she wants. It would represent an unprecedented erosion of hitherto sacrosanct civil liberties. Those wanting to bet would suffer a considerable loss of privacy by being compelled to permit analysis of their bank accounts by the ombudsman. Moreover, whether or not we can bet would be determined not by our own judgement but an algorithm.

The report says: "Once risk factors can be accurately identified and agreed upon, we recommend that the ombudsman work with data analysts, banks, and credit agencies to construct an algorithmic tool capable of classifying a person's financial harm on a scale. The ombudsman would be responsible for determining the threshold for affordability and also capable of changing any criteria if further data suggests this is necessary.

"Any and all decisions made about affordability must rest with the third-party ombudsman and its decision must be enforced by the operators."

Banks would be made to share customer data with the ombudsman, but it would be the betting operators that then had to intervene by rejecting a bet.

Central to making the entire system possible would be the compulsory tracking of all transactions. With the surveillance of remote gambling deemed insufficient by the CSJ, anyone placing a cash bet – even the purchase of a National Lottery scratchcard – would first have to provide PIN details. As such, all activity could be recorded, monitored and analysed by the state using the unexplained algorithm. The outcome would be the introduction of a gamblers' register in which everyone who bets has their personal information logged on a government list.

"The CSJ recommends that all gambling transactions must be verified via debit card details to confirm an individual's identity and thereby provide the financial sector holistic data on all gambling spend," states the report.

"The classification of all gambling spend by merchant category codes also allows for banks to use machine learning to review gambling customers' financial positions and gambling spend. An algorithmic approach ensures objectivity in affordability measures and limits any privacy concerns individuals may have... Once a customer has reached the affordability threshold set by the regulatory body, gambling operators must take immediate action to block that user from their platforms."

It all amounts to Orwellian interference by the state. Asked to jump through intrusive hoops, and deterred by the knowledge that their betting activity would be policed by the government, the pleasure of punting would be massively diminished, as would the number of people who bet. It is nigh on certain that many would rather stop betting than consent to external inspection of their financial dealings.

The consequences for the gambling industry would be monumentally damaging. For the sport of horseracing, so heavily funded by those who bet, the outcome would be equally catastrophic.

British racing's leaders estimated earlier this year that affordability checks could cost the sport more than £60 million a year in reduced levy income and media rights payments. Even starker in his warning was Arena Racing Company chief executive Martin Cruddace, who forecast an annual loss of £100m based on a projection that between 60 and 70 per cent of punters would reject having to prove they could afford gambling losses.

In addition, the CSJ wants the government to impose a ban on anything that promotes bookmakers, betting or gaming.

The report argues: "We call for the comprehensive elimination of gambling marketing, inducements, and advertising in the UK... We recommend that policymakers consider an approach akin to that applied in tobacco control, which takes into consideration all forms of advertising, including promotion and sponsorship. Additionally, the implementation of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 would provide a guideline for advertising regulation that could easily be followed."

The ban would likely bring to an end almost all mainstream television coverage of the sport, given that it depends on commercial broadcasters – currently ITV and previously Channel 4 – being able to make profits out of partnerships and advertising deals with bookmakers. Racecourses would also be denied by far their biggest source of sponsorship income.

"It's important to stress we're not anti-gambling," Duncan Smith tells the Racing Post.

"It's time to have tighter control to protect those who become vulnerable and should not be gambling. We also need an acceptance that the way some gambling companies make most of their profits from people who gamble excessively is an abuse and almost immoral.

"We're anti a completely unregulated industry and a fairly toothless commissioner that doesn't intervene when seeing a gambling company is not doing the right thing."

Duncan Smith is wrong to claim the industry is unregulated. The British gambling sector is one of the most regulated in the world, while the Gambling Commission, for all its failings, regularly imposes penalties. Even where Duncan Smith is right – particularly when talking about the terrible consequences that can befall the victims of gambling addiction and their families – he all too often offers solutions that are, at best, highly questionable.

So, too, is the report's credibility, as when speaking to the Racing Post this week, Duncan Smith directly contradicted some of his own document's principal points.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith: "I've had flutters on things, although I'm not a professional gambler"
Sir Iain Duncan Smith: "I've had flutters on things, although I'm not a professional gambler"
He told us: "We're not asking anyone to monitor every bet." That does not tally with the report's recommendation that "all gambling transactions must be verified via debit card details" or that an employee of the state would have the ultimate say on approving a bet request.

Asked about the CSJ's call for an advertising ban, Duncan Smith insists: "We're not banning all advertising. For us it's not about that." Yet in his foreword to the report, the member for Chingford & Woodford Green says: "We call for a broad range of bold measures including the ban on all gambling advertising."

It begs the question, what are we supposed to believe? On top of that, what are we supposed to believe he believes?

"We're not at all anti-gambling," he repeats. "I've had flutters on things, although I'm not a professional gambler. We fully understand racing's need for levies from gambling. It's all much better controlled in racing, too. We're just trying to get things into a reasonable state. We're not trying to ban gambling. Don't worry."

But the sustained opposition to gambling as a respectable leisure pursuit is a worry, particularly as the CSJ report is far from the only one of its kind.

In their August 2020 report for the Social Market Foundation, 'Gambling review and reform: Towards a new regulatory framework', authors Dr James Noyes (a former advisor to Tom Watson) and Jake Shepherd also recommend the creation of a gambling ombudsman and, for punters, a monthly net deposit threshold of £100 (or £23 a week), after which the ombudsman would be compelled to determine if any further gambling spend was affordable to the individual in question.

Noyes and Shepherd argue: "Our model enables us to conclude that a 'soft cap' threshold of £100 per month, based on net deposits, should be applied across operators on all remote gambling activity, after which enhanced customer due diligence checks should be made."

The authors, who write about a "public health crisis" in relation to gambling, add: "We recognise that affordability can change depending on circumstance. We also recognise that some free agents engaging in a fair market might want to spend more than others, and that affordability will mean different things to different people. However, we maintain that when it comes to preventing gambling-related harm, consumer protection is a priority."

For vulnerable individuals that protection might be welcome. For many other punters it will be interpreted as unnecessary, unwelcome and entirely inappropriate interference. Yet that sort of narrative is pumped out regularly by academics, commentators and senior public figures, including within the NHS.

The news section of NHS England's own website last year posted a story about Clare Murdoch, the head of mental health care in England, writing angry letters to the heads of a number of gambling firms.

"The links between the sporting industry and gambling are deeply disturbing, and the tactics used by some firms are shameful," Murdoch told her employer. "It is high time sporting bodies get back to their roots and start focusing on fans and families enjoying watching their heroes play, rather than allowing firms to hijack sport in pursuit of profit."

The reality is most sports event sponsors 'hijack' an event for commercial reasons. Murdoch's implication that it is wrong for betting organisations to make a profit further implies that betting is somehow improper, while in failing to appreciate that sport itself is driven by profit, she is either stunningly naive or deliberately disingenuous.

"After seeing the destruction the gambling industry has caused to young people in this country, it is clear that firms are focused on profit at the expense of people's health," Murdoch told The Guardian earlier this year.

The NHS may not have an explicitly official position on gambling but it is evidently content for senior figures within it to be part of the campaign against gambling.

A genuine threat

This is not a quiet time for the Conservative government. The Covid crisis continues, as does the fallout from Brexit. One school of thought says that when the now-imminent white paper of the gambling review is published it will seek to be as balanced and uncontroversial as possible. Given the ferocity of gambling's critics, achieving an outcome that placates all will not be easy.

In recent days the heat has been turned up even more. Over 160 MPs and peers gave their backing to a letter sent to the prime minister on November 17 by members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm and Peers for Gambling Reform.

The nine signatories to the letter – who include Duncan Smith, Harris, the Bishop of St Albans, former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Lord Grade, previously a senior figure within the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 – call on Johnson to be "bold" in the legislation. Troublingly, much of the evidence for reform they present is not based on fact.

They argue that "on average a problem gambler commits suicide every day", yet that statistic is one that can only be based on guesswork, not evidence. The letter states a discredited figure when referencing the annual cost of gambling harm, while their assertion that 60 per cent of the gambling industry's profits "come from the five per cent who are already problem gamblers or who are at risk of becoming so" is an unsubstantiated claim that comes from a corrupted reading of a 2016 report.

There is a danger that a vital public policy debate is being distorted by the presentation of misleading evidence. That is a real cause for concern. Some friends of racing in Westminster are also expressing fears that Chris Philp, the minister now with direct responsibility for gambling, could see the review as an opportunity to markedly raise his profile. Philp has already said enough to suggest he has much less confidence in the gambling industry than his predecessor in the role, John Whittingdale.

Chris Philp is now the Conservative minister directly responsible for gambling
Chris Philp is now the Conservative minister directly responsible for gambling
It all adds to real uncertainty over what will feature in the white paper. However, Zarb-Cousin, founder of the Clean Up Gambling campaign and respected on both sides of the debate, insists that in determining what action should be taken, a range of approaches are essential.

He says: "If drugs were legalised and you bought cannabis from a newsagent, you wouldn't then want the shop to try to sell you heroin or cocaine. I'm not saying gambling is necessarily analogous to drugs, but the problems come from operators offering a range of products. The bookmaking and betting aspect gets lumped in with the gaming, slots and casino, which is where the harm really takes place. I think it's important to differentiate between the different products and regulate them appropriately."

Zarb-Cousin adds: "In my conversations with parliamentarians and other groups, I've never met anyone who wants to ban gambling. If I ever were to meet anyone who wants to ban gambling I would say that would simply lead to the same problems we have with drug policy, namely you force it underground. It's much better for the consumer that the industry is legal and regulated.

"I did Radio 4's The Moral Maze and was cross-examined by Giles Fraser, who asked me if I now believed it was immoral for me to have gambled. I thought that was a real throwback argument. I feel the discourse has moved on from that. I don't think anyone with a significant platform in this public policy debate has a moral objection to people gambling. There might be some who perceive the behaviour of the gambling industry as immoral, but not gambling itself."

Despite that assertion, the most draconian reimaginations of gambling regulation could have an effect not far short of banning the activity. The public protestations of the anti-gambling lobby are often far removed from what they are actually seeking to achieve. For that reason, the industry has for some time been in combat mode, without ever really looking like it is winning the public debate.

That, in part, could be due to the breadth and skill of its opponents, whose message can be carried on the back of powerful real-life stories of the most enormous sadness. Waugh also asserts that there has been a futile tendency to offer pointless olive branches, such as recent signals of willingness to support an advertising blackout.

He says: "There is some industry support for giving up broadcast advertising – but it is not clear this would benefit consumers. Its importance is likely to be symbolic in that it would reinforce claims that 'gambling is the new tobacco'.

"Policies of appeasement generally have the effect of encouraging those you are trying to appease to push on progressively for more and more – and policies of appeasement are particularly disastrous when applied to the public health lobby, which has set out a strategy based upon the achievement and consolidation of small victories."

Those victories have continued to mount up. Some have been widely and justifiably applauded, helping to shape the gambling industry into something that is more responsible and committed to customer protection. However, where we are is still nowhere near good enough for those most hostile to the industry.

"There needs to be something to arrest this swing," says Waugh. "At the moment it's not obvious what that will be. The Gambling Act review could do that, but if it tries to strike a balance the public health lobby will simply say it isn't what it wanted and ask where are the affordability checks, the spending caps and the complete ban on all forms of advertising?

"They will keep going, piling on the pressure. It wouldn't then be difficult for the government to make changes through secondary legislation, plus it's remarkably easy for the Gambling Commission to make changes through licence conditions. In fact, the Gambling Commission can do anything that isn't specifically reserved for the government."

Waugh adds: "If you're a gambling consumer, are you going to have to forgo privacy when it comes to your bank statements as a condition of being able to gamble? Well, it's not going to happen tomorrow, but could it happen in five years' time? It absolutely could.

"I think these threats are very realistic. If you get into a cold bath, it's not very pleasant. If you get into a hot bath that gradually gets cooler as you lie in it, you don't notice it so much. That's what's happening with the gambling industry. So much has changed for the better over the last five years, yet the hysteria is at a higher pitch than it was five years ago – even though all the evidence tells us harm-related gambling is decreasing. It would be naive to think things cannot get worse."

This piece is exclusive to Members' Club Ultimate subscribers. Read more articles for members from Lee Mottershead here:
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Report JetLoneStar November 27, 2021 8:21 PM GMT
Nanny state continues, by 2025 you'll have to ask the regime for permission to take a dump.

Make no mistake this is not just gambling, we're sleepwalking into a dystopian future where the state controls every aspect of your life, where you need permission from the state to do what you want. The social credit score will be along soon enough too, this 'pandemic' seems to have been the catalyst needed by the state to implement their controls.

Blockchain will hopefully be the future, and not just for gambling, get educated on it, as it's the only thing that will maybe help us escape from the grasps of financial state control.
Report mrcombustible November 27, 2021 8:22 PM GMT
Will lead to a rise in illegal bookmaking
Report screaming from beneaththewaves November 27, 2021 8:27 PM GMT
"Policies of appeasement generally have the effect of encouraging those you are trying to appease to push on progressively for more and more – and policies of appeasement are particularly disastrous when applied to the public health lobby, which has set out a strategy based upon the achievement and consolidation of small victories."

That's the key. I've said it a hundred times on here, and I'll keep on saying it - all of you who cheered on the FOBTs clampdown, this is down to you. What did you all think would happen after they won that victory? That they'd leave us alone?
Report pandora1963 November 27, 2021 8:27 PM GMT
what it amounts to is that is you're on a low income you will never be allowed to have a big bet
Report JetLoneStar November 27, 2021 8:28 PM GMT
Can apply that logic to how we're this far into 3 weeks to flatten the curve, or how a certainly Austrian got as far he did in Germany.
Report The Management November 27, 2021 8:51 PM GMT
Screaming - your 20:27 post is ballards.

The situation is of the bookmakers own making - they could show govt etc "where the bodies are buried" so to speak - with regard to problem gambling but instead they are willing to gamble (with what used to be their core product - "gambling") in order to hang on to their new core product - "gaming". A massive gamble ironically - given how risk averse they are now!

They have the data that that profiles the behaviour of a likely problem gambler - but rather than share that data so that common sense could prevail - they have exploited it to such an extent that they would probably be charged with something if they share it in full now.
Report screaming from beneaththewaves November 27, 2021 8:58 PM GMT
None of that would matter if the busybodies and prodnoses were still at the stage of trying to ban FOBTs. It's only because we handed them that victory that they've got the time on their hands to come for the rest of us.
Report devilsadvocate November 27, 2021 9:05 PM GMT
Indeed TM. They will all  merrily feed off a juicy soon to be carcass and then proclaim they did everything to save it.
Report The Management November 27, 2021 9:06 PM GMT
The only thing that needs to happen for common sense to prevail (which is pretty much what Zarb-Cousins is saying imo) is that "gambling" and "gaming" need to be recognised as two different activities.

This is a massive and inaccurate sweeping generalisation (with plenty of exceptions to the rule and some overlap) - but in very broad terms one is a fairly harmless past-time much enjoyed by many people and quite social - the other is the root of all evil, often done in secret, that ruins countless lives.

The people that have the evidence to broadly support that (sweeping generalisation) are the books! While they refuse to share that evidence (and continue to gamble with your livelihood and enjoyment) ignorant people (like many of those named in LM's article) will continue to see the two things as one and the same activity.
Report Dr Crippen November 27, 2021 9:07 PM GMT
Agree screeming.

Hamper them all the way, and don't give them a thing that might help them to move on.
Report pandora1963 November 27, 2021 9:09 PM GMT
there are two types of MP that really want to ban gambling(if they can) the busybody so called left which is basically woke do gooders and the tory right who hate the idea of the poorest ever making a lot of money through gambling
Report The Management November 27, 2021 9:14 PM GMT
Dr Crippen27 Nov 21 21:07Joined: 16 Apr 02 | Topic/replies: 47,255 | Blogger: Dr Crippen's blog
Agree screeming.

Hamper them all the way, and don't give them a thing that might help them to move on.

That's not what is happening - it is all being lumped together - if you leave it all lumped together, there won't be lots of little battles, there will just be one big (all or nothing) war.
Report screaming from beneaththewaves November 27, 2021 9:20 PM GMT
It's all being lumped together precisely because they won their "little battle" over FOBTs. Because we cheered on their "little victory" there, it opened up everything to them.

And it's no use trying the strategy that betting on horse racing is harmless, and it's the gaming which causes massive losses:

YOUNG FATHER who stole €13,000 from his employer in order to feed his gambling addiction has avoided jail.
26-year-old Jason Whelan of Coolock, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five sample counts of stealing money from Europcar in Santry, north Dublin, on dates between May and July 2013.

[No FOBTs in Ireland.]

An online gambling addict stole more than £1 million from his employers to pay for betting sprees, forcing the company to go into liquidation and lay off staff, a court heard yesterday.
Bryan Benjafield, 23, an accounts administrator earning £16,000 a year, exploited his position at a building firm to transfer money to his bank account then into his Ladbrokes internet account.
He spent up to £7,000 a day, placing bets on sports of every kind, including horse racing and football matches, and on internet poker and other online casino games.

No FOBTs online

A YOUNG man with a promising career in the Post Office lost it all when he became addicted to gambling and embezzled more than £134,000 from his bosses.

Defence solicitor, Jennifer McEvinney, said her client had online accounts with three betting companies, where he gambled on football and horse racing.

Read more at:

Ex-councillor stole £81k to fund trip on the QE2 and gambling spree.

Mr Lake had left the money upon his death for relatives, his church as well as charities including Cancer Research UK and the Injured Jockey's Fund. But Lloyd, of Symington Street, St James, who worked for a wills business and was acting as Mr Lake's executor, kept hold of the money and spent it on a cruise with his wife as well as gambling away 25,000 on horse races.

Read more at:

An unregistered financial adviser who fleeced more than £2m from his clients to fund his internet gambling addiction was jailed for nine years yesterday. Philip Smith conned at least 51 victims out of the money, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable. He even stole £42,000 from his brother Christopher who had previously lent him money to pay off mortgage arrears. As his debts spiralled out of control, Smith simply did not care who he stole from, detectives claimed.
In total, Smith took £1.75m from clients and laundered a further £600,000 to fund his online gambling habit - with accounts at firms Betfair, Stanley James, Blue Square and Spread Ex.

At one point, Smith had 67 credit cards registered with a single online betting company and it is thought that he squandered £2m by gambling on horses, golf and other sports.
Report The Management November 27, 2021 9:30 PM GMT
You've posted all of those before - they're about as reliable for evidential purposes as your links that show the vaccine is making all the athletes fall over.

People in the industry know for a fact where the vast majority of degenerate addicts congregate. They have the data - they've paid doctors, professors and psychologists millions of pounds to help them make it happen.

Are you suggesting that rather than look at the actual behavioural/financial data - we go with some lazy and sensationalised articles from the tabloids?
Report JetLoneStar November 27, 2021 9:35 PM GMT
First they came for the FOBT players
And I did not speak out
Because I was not an FOBT player

Report The Management November 27, 2021 9:35 PM GMT
I've got to be honest - if I had nicked £2 million form my employer and as a result some of my colleagues had lost their jobs, you'd think life couldn't get any more humiliating - and then they asked you what did you actually spunk it on? - I think I'd say horses and golf, rather than admitting that between 8pm and 8am every night I was trying to get 5 little Leprechauns to land in a straight line.    I
Report screaming from beneaththewaves November 27, 2021 9:37 PM GMT
I'm suggesting that you will get nowhere trying to separate betting on racing from betting on roulette. That was everyone's strategy with FOBTs - oh yeah, it's only FOBT gamblers who are idiots and lose their home, not us clever horse racing types.

It's not true. We horse racing gamblers do our b0llocks too, just as heavily. By conceding that Something Must Be Done about FOBTs, because of the heavy losses on them, we've conceded that Something Must Be Done about horse racing too, because of the heavy losses on that.
Report The Management November 27, 2021 9:47 PM GMT
Well tbf I never conceded that something just had to be done about FOBT's - it was me that posted on here that it was utterly pointless unless you did the same to the on-line equivalent products.

And sure enough in the weeks when it looked like stakes would be reduced - all the High Street books were out from behind their counters showing the degenerate addicts (that they had cultivated) how to download the app to play on-line for their usual stakes.

Under those circumstances it's not too surprising that "they" have come back for more imo. It needs one big proper educated clean up because the big books have turned the industry into a cess-pit.
Report The Management November 27, 2021 10:01 PM GMT
Rephrase that slightly - they have cultivated a new low-cost, high margin industry that is a cess-pit and largely abandoned the industry that existed before it.

The industry as a whole (even if you accept that gambling and gaming are the same thing) needs a re-set - You won't ever get a sensible re-set if you let the people pressing the button proceed with it from a point of inaccurate perceptions or ignorance. It's happening, sooner or later, like it or not - but with what you and Dr crippen are proposing, there is absolutely every chance they will just throw the baby out with the bathwater imo.
Report racing6699 November 28, 2021 9:03 AM GMT
The RP are anything but PRO Punters. Every time i bring up their site, looking at the form on a horse, i have to close down pop ups from Casino s with FREE bets play casino etc... not to mention their avoidance of not calling out the unfair behaviour of most major bookmakers. This is article is like everything else in their agenda, simply about protecting themselves and their revenues. Its not journalism.
Report big aitch November 28, 2021 10:03 AM GMT
I don't think gambling is harmful, I have seen all the Bookmakers ads where there are groups of people in a pub with their mobiles in their hands smiling and laughing while they bet, so it looks like it is quite a social thing to do.
Report racing6699 November 28, 2021 10:14 AM GMT
The reality is in every bookmaker they are trying to find ways to make more money. That's their business and their business model. Its completely delusional to think anything else. What bookmakers do now is have very good PR and lobbying to try to pretend its 'gaming' or social responsible or whatever new idea their PR team have dreamt up. What sickens me is the way they are allowed to get away with it being all one way. If you actually show restrain, study form and dont play casino you are actually banned from their site. Literally until this is discussed and made fair then i think bookmakers can only state that their business model is take to bets of ill informed, addicted mugs who like poring their money into a huge black hole to try and buy some entertainment or hope
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 10:58 AM GMT
I find it interesting that the do-gooders never address the huge losses some people make on the stock markets.
It's a myth that people generally make money in the markets, fortunes are lost all the time.

You can invest any amount of money and no one is going to ask you for details of your income.
Report dustybin November 28, 2021 11:12 AM GMT
I’d love to hear what they make of ‘investing’ if their noses are so out of joint with gambling.
Every CFD broker has to show how unlikely you are of making money (think about 78% lose or something like) then there’s all the ETF’s and ‘punts’ on shares like Tesla etc which are pure speculation….how many of the tory donors will have to provide illuminating evidence of their finances clandestinely squirrelled away in some offshore account before they can invest?
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 11:13 AM GMT
I remember a chap in a betting shop who said as he threw his screwed up betting slip on the floor. ''That's my going out tonight gone. I've been losing money in these places since I left school - it's a f'in' fiddle.''

Don 't people like him need protecting?

In my opinion yes. But it can't be done without spoiling the game for others.
Report roggrain November 28, 2021 11:15 AM GMT
Next will come controls over how much we spend on alcohol or fast foods. Our lives are becoming

affected by decisions arrived at through the use of algorithms, and our future being one that is

controlled by interfering busy bodies such as the Bishop Of St Albans. Perhaps it should be suggested

that people attending church should be means tested before being allowed to put money in the

collection boxes! After all it can be argued that many people are addicted to religion. Religion has

been at the root of countless wars and has done far more harm than gambling ever could.

I say to all those pushing this agenda: Leave us alone you hypocrites. Get your snotty noses out of

our lives!
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 11:25 AM GMT
Exactly roggrain, look at alcoholism which is a much bigger problem than gambling, are we going to ban alcohol?

All it boils down to is how much power are we prepared to give the state?
Report jumper3 November 28, 2021 11:26 AM GMT
Does anyone thing beyond the affordability checks currently in place, the next step will be a ban of betting firms publicly advertising, in the same guise the tobacco industry had to undertake.
Report dustybin November 28, 2021 11:26 AM GMT
It’s certainly a mad mad world they are conjuring up.
The other week this rafiq cricketer blamed others for his alcoholism and then the calls were made to cull drinking culture.
People are cancelling professional opinion based on trans situations
Non binary are dictating which pronouns everyone must use
The SNP are forcing Scottish to not give facts to the debates
And now because a minority lose everyone has to show their papers?

You can cancel the future
Report Blackrock November 28, 2021 11:37 AM GMT
They have to go back to banning bookmaker advertising completely. Never a good idea to introduce it in the first place.

That may stop future mugs betting on the spin of a wheel, but the cat is out of the bag for present punters.

Having said that i completely disagree with the nanny state telling us what we can or can't do. How a handful of businessmen can instruct governments to do its bidding is beyond ridiculous, but its happening right in front of our eyes.
Report The Management November 28, 2021 11:52 AM GMT
Most people on here reacting exactly the way that the books who own the on-line casino/bingo/slots want them to react. Lee Mottershead and the Racing Post have done their job well (again).

Let's not talk about the most addictive forms of gaming that have ever been invented, let's not talk about how the bookmakers have identified the signs of addiction via profiling and then exploited that data to cultivate addicts and direct them towards slots and casino games.

Nope - Let's create a smokescreen by shifting the focus onto the "human rights" and "freedoms" of the vast majority of gamblers that don't have a problem. Let's pretend it's all about "Big Brother" and the intrusive totalitarian state trying to stop hard working Billy from having a lucky 15 on Saturday.

On-line slots, casinos, bingo, etc - Nothing to see here!
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 11:53 AM GMT
The reality is, that anything that hurts bookmakers will be met with enthusiasm by the general non-betting public. Who look on the bookmaking industry as unsavoury to say the least.

And I agree with them, it's a lousy way to earn a living on moral grounds.
Leeching off the weakness of others, who haven't got the sense to only bet what they can afford to lose.

I've got no soft spot for any bookmaker.

Although I believe they're a necessary evil to keep the game as it is.
Report dustybin November 28, 2021 12:09 PM GMT
Might explain how all the stocks of bookies have been on the slump, even with talk of take overs
I get the impression bookies dont give too much of a damn about any other market other than the states, which ironically were the last to deregulate....just as the countries in Europe start to regulate.
Report Duncan Disordorli November 28, 2021 12:23 PM GMT
"It's time to have tighter control to protect those who become vulnerable and should not be gambling. We also need an acceptance that the way some gambling companies make most of their profits from people who gamble excessively is an abuse and almost immoral."

Surely nobody can argue with that ?  Smokers still puff away despite draconian restrictions. If a drinker was all but falling on the floor nobody would object to the manager showing him the door. Why should gambling not be regulated more stringently ? The bookmakers have no shame emptying the pockets of the vulnerable and their advertising and mug product promotions SHOULD be banned. As bookmakers find it so simple to block winning punters they can hardly argue that it would be difficult to block those losing heavily.
As for the sharp minds on Betfair being restricted to losing a ton a month, pure fantasy which simply will not happen.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 12:41 PM GMT
Problem gamblers must be far fewer than they once were. Many betting shops have gone and the ones still in business seem short of punters.
There can't be many problem gamblers about.

It's not much use the do-gooders pointing to past problem gamblers, it's those with the problem now they should be showing us.
So where are they?
Report The Management November 28, 2021 12:47 PM GMT
Next thing you know they'll be finding a way you can gamble 24/7 without even leaving the house.

I www wonder www what they will call it Dr C?
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 1:19 PM GMT
Look at the liquidity on here, hasn't that gone down?

Don't tell me they've all been lured to bet with bookies whose odds are less.
Report Latalomne November 28, 2021 1:22 PM GMT
Do you really think degenerates give two shiny $hites about odds?!?  They just need a hit.
Report The Management November 28, 2021 1:25 PM GMT
Doc C - unless you are on the wind-up?

Your post at 12:41 rules you out of further conversation with me on this topic.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 1:28 PM GMT
Your post at 12:41 rules you out of further conversation with me on this topic.

Good I was begining to think you were stalking me.

Yet you still couldn't resist another pop at 12:47.
Report fife November 28, 2021 1:29 PM GMT
I agree with The Management that sports betting and gaming should be treated separately.
Report fife November 28, 2021 1:30 PM GMT
Ignore Crappen as he is just a troll.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 1:41 PM GMT
And you're a simple leftie who attacks anyone you consider on the right.
Report The Management November 28, 2021 1:42 PM GMT
Thank you fife - and I will take your advice.

I can put up with a troll (it's the internet after all) but a troll that doesn't understand the impact of the internet on the industry and/or the impact that the internet has had on problem gambling needs to get back to chit-chat.

TBF his (ignorant) post (probably inadvertently) sums up the situation - we have regulation and legislation that pre-dates the internet pre-internet and an industry that has probably exploited/abused the internet more effectively than anybody else in the world bar a couple of billionaires in the USA.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 1:47 PM GMT
Phew, The Management has got his knickers in a twist.

He calls me a troll. 

Yet if you look back it's him who attacked me not the other way around.
Report dustybin November 28, 2021 1:50 PM GMT
The punter will have no say in this issue, this is about how those in the industry put their case beofre those wanting action.
If the likes of IDS cant get his facts straight and parrot the lines of that awful Harris woman 'we arn't anti betting' rhetoric, while still waxing lyrical about vulnerable people then 'banning gambling' isnt the problem, it's the irrevocable damage they do trying to safeguard the useless thats the problem.

This isnt about whether the RP et al combine the two issues of gaming and gambling, after all they wouldnt hit gambling while allowing gaming to continue uneffected.
Yhis Cousins guy seems to realise the difference, then lets see.
Report The Management November 28, 2021 2:00 PM GMT
Doc - Why are you posting on a thread when you have demonstrated that you have no clue about the subject matter?

Also for info - it has nothing to do with "left" or "right" - some of the people Lee Mottershead claims are uniting to turn us into a nanny-state (in his sponsored by big bookmakers opinion), are card carrying communists, others are just as far to the right in their day-to-day thinking.

If all you've got to add is left and right - you don't need to contribute to any topic as everybody already knows what you think on every topic. Try to think for yourself, you might just surprise yourself and realise that some discussions aren't party political.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 2:00 PM GMT
Do-gooders have a different point of view, if they see something they think should change then they're not interested in the facts of the matter.

They put pressure on those who have the power to change things and it gets done.
They usually win in the end.
Report The Management November 28, 2021 2:03 PM GMT
Dusty - agree about Zarb-Cousins - given his role and his stance - he sounds like a total pragmatist. Sounds like he understands the subject matter fully, all of the subtleties and all of the details.
Report big aitch November 28, 2021 2:28 PM GMT
I think mankind is built with some sort of destructive and addictive Gene, it can manifest as suicide, gambling with any money they can lay their hands on, drug taking, driving like a lunatic, smoking, mountain climbing, jumping from an aeroplane, bungee jumping etc. and most people can control it but some people let it take over their lives, you can never stop them.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 2:56 PM GMT
I agree with that big aitch.
Report ItsMeSwaddle November 28, 2021 5:23 PM GMT

Nov 27, 2021 -- 8:58PM, screaming from beneaththewaves wrote:

None of that would matter if the busybodies and prodnoses were still at the stage of trying to ban FOBTs. It's only because we handed them that victory that they've got the time on their hands to come for the rest of us.

You did warn 3 or 4 of us approx a year ago when we were calling for the head of the farcical FOBT's as they were then Laugh

Report ItsMeSwaddle November 28, 2021 5:27 PM GMT
And agree, games of chance aka Bingo Roulette should be completly seperate from the rest.
Report impossible123 November 28, 2021 6:34 PM GMT
Just ban all forms of advertisement on media and electronic devices. Also, distinguish, govern and regulate horseracing and gaming as two separate different entities in the gambling industry; the former as sport; the latter similar to casinos and stocks and shares. And, no fobt on the high streets.
Report Dr Crippen November 28, 2021 6:44 PM GMT
It's all well and good us separating the different branches, but the do-gooders see all types of gambling as evil.

They targetted the FOBT to start with and they're moving on from there.
Report JetLoneStar November 29, 2021 2:37 AM GMT
The rhetoric being used is very worrying, these nanny state clowns seem intent on killing the industry like they're on a crusade against evil.
Report dustybin November 29, 2021 6:46 AM GMT
Concern for others isn’t exactly the impression I get when I hear IDS involved in something that’s for sure.
What’s that he’s set up, some personal quango, for the implementation of a back door surveillance system?

I saw this in my YouTube feed (I’ve watched the odd Russel Brand clip) and immediately saw the similarities.
Perhaps all of this is just a ruse?
Report impossible123 November 29, 2021 8:32 AM GMT
The bookies bandwagon has grown too big; their mouthpieces and reps have been irresponsible and negligent in promoting/linking gaming alongside horseracing citing civil liberty and freedom of choice (liberally) solely for personal gain. These people ought to be censured and removed from the sport altogether - they're too stuck in their ways and non-conducive to the sport.

Personally, I'd be willing to be subject to Affordability Check (at the outset) if the strangle-hold of horseracing and linking of gaming by bookies is broken. I certainly would agree to Gaming being licensed and governed by stricter regulations and conditions under a different Betting and Gaming Bill.

Fobt is evil and destructive, and any high street bookie or online entity involved ought to be subject to a new Betting and Gaming Bill fit for purpose for 2021 and beyond.
Report Dr Crippen November 29, 2021 9:54 AM GMT
I was under the impression that problem gamblers can't lose their shirts through online gambling.

Aren't affordability checks already in place?
Report screaming from beneaththewaves November 29, 2021 12:24 PM GMT
Yes. But they don't involve lots of £100,000/year jobs for friends of Carolyn Harris and Ian Duncan Smith.
Report The Management November 29, 2021 12:36 PM GMT
The best thing you can say about Iain Duncan Smith is that when he changed his name, at least it was for less sinister reasons than Grant Shapps. Apart from that, I cannot think of anything whatsoever to recommend him.

The state of his political career can be summed up by the fact that he's had to set up a "think tank" in order to promote his views. Obviously he ruled out the alternative option - of getting a tattoo on his forehead that reads: "Please listen to me, somebody?, anybody?, Please listen, please".

He was born for the role of "yesterdays man" and I know he can't help his voice tone - but when I first heard there were drones at racecourses - I assumed IDS had gone gone racing on a fact finding mission!

For political balance - Carolyn Harris appears to be a rancid woman with her own fair share of skeletons in the cupboard.

As I said before though, while the big books gamble with the future of sports betting by withholding the data/information (in order to protect their new "gaming" business and probably also through fear of criminal charges), you can only hope that some knowledgable pragmatists get involved, in order that it can play out sensibly.
Report Rico-Dangleflaps November 29, 2021 1:29 PM GMT
planet needs nuked..simple.
Report The Management November 29, 2021 1:50 PM GMT
I knew i could rely on you to bring some pragmatism to the discussion - the voice of reason! Grin
Report Movewiththetimes November 29, 2021 2:38 PM GMT
You might get your wish now China has a hypersonic missile Sad
Report Rico-Dangleflaps November 29, 2021 2:58 PM GMT
the one sam fender sings about?
Report roggrain November 29, 2021 3:01 PM GMT
Missiles will soon be redundant once the Chinese and the Russians have perfected viruses for which

only they have the antidote!
Report bettysboy November 29, 2021 5:30 PM GMT
Dr Crippen - unfortunately the do gooders do not see all types of gambling as evil. Playing the financial markets and property development amongst many other others are also forms of gambling, as also is starting up a new business or buying into an existing one, they are never linked by the do gooders as gambling.

They also conveniently disregard the difference between spontaneous gambling and betting which involves research, analysis and selection.
Report Senyatta November 29, 2021 7:24 PM GMT
the credit card ban was all they needed to do. if you have the money sitting in your bank account surely you can spend it as you please. if they want to do this then please target other groups - fat people from buying too much food, alcholics, smokers etc.
Report The Management November 29, 2021 7:32 PM GMT
Have they deregulated smokes and alcohol while I was having my dinner?
Report The Management November 29, 2021 7:49 PM GMT
In all fairness to you, it's not a good comparison - because those big tobacco corporations weren't hell bent on profit no matter what the consequences on people or society, they never ruined any lives, told any lies or withheld any data either BlushCrazy

So it's a poor comparison and you you have persuaded me that on-line gaming does not need any new regulation to reflect the very minor change that the internet has had on the world.
Report The Management November 29, 2021 7:50 PM GMT
Case closed.
Report Senyatta November 29, 2021 7:58 PM GMT
think it would be a good start. limit the amount of those deadly killers that people can get a hold of. any time i'm shopping i am disgusted by what i see. have a look around next time your out and about kid.
Report The Management November 29, 2021 8:05 PM GMT
I do miss the Hamlet adverts - especially the bloke with the hair in the photo booth.

Report Dr Crippen November 29, 2021 8:16 PM GMT
I agree bettysboy. I mentioned gambling on the stock market yesterday at 10:58

No broker is going to check if you can afford to lose the money gambling there.

And what about the family man who borrows money to start a business and uses his house as security?
Report Senyatta November 29, 2021 8:31 PM GMT
they'll come for that too. one step at a time
Report impossible123 November 29, 2021 10:20 PM GMT
There's a clear distinction and difference between an investment and pure gambling. Horseracing and gaming have never been classified as investment, period; horseracing and gaming are repetitive the lattermuch more so.
Report shiny new shoes please November 29, 2021 11:07 PM GMT
The penny is slowly dropping & about time
all amounts to Orwellian interference by the state
Only the beginning
Step by step
Report JetLoneStar November 30, 2021 2:33 AM GMT
Gambling is illegal in China, it will soon be illegal worldwide.

We're slowly being conditioned to accept complete government control like in China.

The Scamdemic has been a the perfect catalyst.
Report dustybin November 30, 2021 10:07 AM GMT
There is no difference whatsoever between gambling and CFD trading.
It has become the goto medium thats pushed to all new 'investors' by brokers. They want you speculating on Forex or Indices and its pure guesswork and the vast majority lose.
Its been recently known as the colloquialism 'Meme stock trading' through CFD's..its not investing because you own nothing, its just spread betting on whether the prices will go up or down from the price you enter.

You get apps on phones and the kids play on them just like they probably do on slots.
Report dustybin November 30, 2021 10:08 AM GMT
*the difference is you dont pay tax on spread bets, but you do on CFDs
Report The Management November 30, 2021 10:14 AM GMT
I see The Sharp Minds are out in force again. For those of you that feel strongly:

The trade newspaper is very proud of its long-standing track record of fighting for punters rights and protecting them from harm. It has a history of doing everything that it can to defend your freedoms and human rights from interfering busybodies and do-gooders.

However printing 68 full colour pages of bookmakers adverts every day can only do so much. If you'd like to do more to help them defend your god given right to bet unlimited stakes 24/7 with an absolute promise of no limitations on stakes and no account restriction on slots, casino or bingo, please give what you can.

To donate £5 text N41VE to 3333.
To donate £10 text TH1CK to 3333.
To donate all of your worldly goods log-on to www.WhirlyWheelSlots24/

Any funds left over from this campaign to defend you from a totalitarian government will be used to fund much needed research into placing the much needed "Double Zero" onto on-line Roulette wheels, so that UK campaigners can donate funds at the same pace as their counterparts in the USA.
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