I AM a campaigner for stricter gambling controls on fixed odds betting terminals and online gambling. My father David had a 30-year secret gambling addiction and hid it from his family, remortgaging their home in secret and stealing tens of thousands of pounds from his employer. He went to jail and served a sentence for fraud.
In last week’s Budget released by Chancellor Philip Hammond, it was said that an online gaming tax of 21 per cent will be implemented along with the fixed odds betting terminals stake reduction from £100 to £2 in October 2019.
Now Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has resigned over her clash with Mr Hammond on this issue after she previously pushed through the reforms in May this year. She accuses the Government of delaying the measure’s introduction (The Yorkshire Post, November 2).
These delays to betting reforms leave vulnerable people exposed to debt and misery and the Budget does nothing to protect vulnerable people from gambling-related harm – it only secures the Government and gambling industry’s future revenues.
The decision to delay the reforms is completely nonsensical and holds no merit in protecting the public from harm. The Government literally has blood on its hands, people are losing lives to these machines and Tracey Crouch should be commended for her bravery. We thank her for her important work on this devastating issue and hope the Government changes its stance immediately.
It is the right decision to impose heavier taxes on online sites, where many people will gamble when high street gambling machines are no longer attractive. We are absolutely furious that the Government has prioritised revenue over the safety of vulnerable people.
Implementing stake reductions 17 months after the original announcement was made earlier this year is appalling and the Government has played politics with lives.
We believe the Treasury has bowed down to pressure from the gambling industry and threats of job losses to put off the implementation of these policies so the industry can figure out a new business plan.
More than 430,000 people are reported to have a gambling addiction in this country and thousands of young people under 18 are becoming gamblers every year.
This industry needs tight control now to prevent further lives and families from being ruined.