Carolyn Harris Urges Government to Act, Doubts Industry “Playbook”

Carolyn Harris Urges Government to Act, Doubts Industry “Playbook”

An outspoken and vociferous critic of the UK gambling operators’ “playbook,” Labor MP Carolyn Harris participated in a two-hour discussion on the societal issues brought on by the industry. During her debate in the House of Commons, Harris spared no words in condemning practices that she argued were questionable and led to no meaningful debate on whether the gambling industry may be improved to be more consumer-focused and offer better player protection measures to all.

Gambling Re-Regulation and Change Needed

Harris, who chairs the Gambling Related Harm Group (APPG), has described debates in parliament as reduced to name-calling and fear-mongering. She criticized a recurrent refrain that should strict gambling measures be introduced, they would negatively impact jobs.

The industry previously warned MPs promoting changes in gambling laws that favor better consumer practices that up to 9,000 betting shops would close should the maximum spin be reduced to £2. Yet, 8,000 betting shops continue to operate today, Harris argued, using this evidence to dismiss the apocalyptic predictions put forward by some proponents of the status quo.

The APPG argued that moving resources away from gambling and into other, more labor-intensive areas, could in turn generate up to £400 million ($525 million) in additional employee earnings. Change, the APPG argues, is not necessarily bad or an end to employment for those who may be impacted.

Harris further argued that something used as an argument in favor of gambling, “the playbook” has already resulted in over £100 million ($130 million) in penalties over the past decade along with 10 revoked licenses. The playbook, Harris said, clearly wasn’t working. Others urged for action sooner rather than later.

Among them was Ian Duncan Smith, an APPG member, who argued that the rising cost of living and debt have made it much more dangerous for people to continue participating in gambling. The time to act was now, Smith urged and said that the government should act.

As to the gambling industry, Smith said that the time has come for stakeholders to acknowledge that change is coming. A first draft of the proposed changes is expected to arrive in May.

British Citizens Weening Off Gambling

Meanwhile, there has been mounting research into consumer habits. For example, “play breaks” have proven a good way to rein in excessive gambling. As to consumer habits, many people have been changing their attitude towards gambling, with almost 50% of the British public expecting to reduce the amount and time they spend gambling.

This was prompted due to the cost of living and inflation, along with a “shift in priorities” and “personal reasons.” Gambling will be changing in the United Kingdom, and even though some MPs have been accused of readily accepting gifts from gambling companies, there is no reversing what has been started.

Author: Ian Douglas