The digital roulette offered on fixed odds betting terminals is gambling’s crack cocaine.
As always when dawn breaks over this day, we turn to the parlour game of Fantasy Queen’s Speech. All regal orations have a strong element of fantasy, by painting a rosier picture of the legislative year ahead than the one that will come to pass. But the point of FQS is not to moan about the wishful thinking to which Her Majesty is condemned to give voice. It is to imagine what the old girl might say if a mischievous Black Rod spiked her water with a Mickey Finn truth serum.
This year, my preferred fantasy statement is as follows: “My Government will knowingly, deliberately and cynically add to my subjects’ sufferings, by colluding in the betting industry’s drive to increase the addiction to gambling.”
On reflection, the sovereign may be in the dark on this one, and, if so, she is in good company. The ruthless targeting of potential problem gamblers through the proliferation of the electronic gaming devices known as fixed odds betting terminals is a national scandal. But since very few of us ever enter a bookmakers’, and since the bookies’ prey are primarily those who do not vote and have no voice, it is largely hidden in plain sight.
I should state, in the hope of pre-empting any squealing letters of complaint from the bookies and their friends at Westminster, that I am not a puritanical enemy of gambling. Like Derek Webb, a professional gambler who made a fortune from inventing casino games, and now spends part of it fighting the march of FOBTs via his Campaign For Fairer Gambling, I am the precise opposite.
Read the full article in The Independent online.