New Labour’s deregulation of gambling in 2005 has damaged the health of the nation. The deputy leader’s plan for a levy is a good start
While we wait to hear the government’s conclusions following its consultation on the controversial fixed-odds betting machines and on gambling advertising, the Labour party deputy leader Tom Watson has made the clearest statement I have yet heard from a leading British politician about the need for action on our large and neglected gambling problem.
He is by no means the first prominent Labour figure to comment on gambling. In 1905 Ramsay MacDonald wrote: “Every Labour leader I know recognises the gambling spirit as a menace to any form of Labour party.” And in 1929 it was Labour chancellor Philip Snowden who abolished Winston Churchill’s betting tax, largely on moral grounds. But they were operating in a very different era, one chiefly characterised by prohibition of gambling. Between then and the era ushered in by New Labour’s 2005 deregulating Gambling Act, the whole climate has fundamentally changed. Watson is not a latter-day moralising anti-gambler. The issue he is rightly addressing is not a moral one but one to do with the nation’s health and quality of life.
Only 15% of British people think that on balance gambling is good for society