In a boardroom in Birmingham, they came up with this plan for proposed Gamstop arrangements. Why should you care? Because it’s a dangerous intervention into people’s basic human rights.
Read on. Here’s how it goes..
– Back 3 losers in a row
– Self exclude for 5 years
– Wake up the next morning to find all your accounts closed in the regulated market.
– Decide, as usual, you didn’t mean it. After all this is how you’ve behaved for the last 6 years when you’ve lost, right? Shut one account down, pick up another elsewhere..
– Ring the Gambling Commission. They tell you you cannot return to any licensed operator under their rules. No, it doesn’t matter if your circumstances have changed, or you’ve simply changed your mind. You cannot change your mind.
– Set up your new betting account with Russia Bet
Having a little chuckle? Well it isn’t actually meant tongue in cheek. You see this is actualy in planning. The plain truth is people like to gamble. 46% of us gambled last year, in one form or another. That’s circa 30 million people. ‘Surveys’ tell us, however, that there are 0.7% of those who gamble who are defined as problem gamblers. That’s 210,000. Actual data on problem gambling levels aren’t currently available. This isn’t to say problem gamblers don’t exist, of course they do, in every addictive product – and they do deserve protection from themselves from the excesses of operators. However, I feel the focus as entirely disproportionate to the scale of the problem, and forgetting the enjoyment many clearly derive from gambling.
Society appears more and more focused on minority. Check out the toilets in the Old Vic 🙂
So self exclusion could be argued to benefit 210 thousand more or less, and be of minimal interest to the residual 29.8 million, who enjoy their gambling and keep things under reasonable self control. Sorry to bandy statistics about. However we do need to protect that element as much as we can, from themselves. That’s not in question here.
So the Gambling Commission will mandate that all licensed operators respect that exclusion order, and no company, in the regulated market will be able to do business with that customer.
Insofar as that is the wishes of the customer – I agree with that ideal. But what if he changes his mind? Should that person have the right to return to gambling of their own free wil? In the same vein perhaps of a person who has stopped smoking to start up again?
Well, in that case, the UK Gambling Commission will mandate that the original ‘term’ the customer sets themselves has to be respected. That’s a divergence from the well intentioned stop order at the outset. In the first case the UKGC is enforcing a person’s free will on business. In the second, that same regulator is directly infringing that person’s human rights to change their mind. This proposal has no precedent.
As an operator of considerable life experience in gambling, I find most individuals currently exclude because they’re annoyed with losses or fancy a pause. That’s because the current system allows them to exclude with one operator only. It’s a weak scheme. However once you start banning people who have changed their mind, for whatever the reason, will have the causal effect of sending UK gamblers to the black market. This cannot be the sensible or proportionate approach.
The Commission will argue they ‘need to protect people from themselves.’ A noble ideal, but you’re effectively controlling their lives. Trying to stop an addict betting with a blunt tool. A wide net. It won’t work, because you cannot tell folk how to run their lives.
This is a dangerous stance for a sensible regulator to even contemplate in a society driven by a click of the mouse.
Ever had too much to drink and said to yourself ‘never again?’ Imagine if that became a reality in gambling. Where would you bet next? After all gambling is a highly popular passtime. Imagine trying to stop alcoholics from drinking or chain smokers from smoking. The United States thought it could stop people drinking. How did that go?
This view is bolstered by a group of MP’s, who’s forum delights in a new breed of ‘experts’ in the behaviour of gamblers.They are, of course, all drawing wages. Their Doctorates, if they have one, are not in the field of gambling. This is entirely relevant, when these people set themselves up as experts.
This ‘cross party betting and gaming group.’ some of whom involved have questionable political motives, are currently examining gambling. I’ve seen the guest list. You don’t build a kitchen if you’re not going to cook a meal. I’ve seen the guest list. ‘Expert’ follows expert with their ideas on how many problem gamblers there are, and what to do about them. What’s clearly not represented, are the 29.8 million of us who don’t have an issue with a bet. We’re not represented.
It’s critical, for example, to understand how many people who exclude right now, who return to gambling shortly after, of their own free will. And in saying that, some of you will be of the view that the weakest of us will return to gambling – when they should not. It’s a valid point. However, a blanket ban on all who do exclude, is a child’s manner of dealing with the issue. These people need our help, via training and education
And the operators should foot the bill. Let’s be clear on that.
These same MP’s want more schools, hospitals, police on our streets. Noble ideals, with bills attached. Last year gambling contributed 3 billion pounds to the economy, a figure that rises year on year. Start banning it, and you’re presenting the golden taxation to another state. A blanket ban makes no fiscal sense and breaches people’s human rights. It will predictably fail.
There is another way.
I disagree with plans which negatively impact the many, to assist so few. It seems to me as a society we are ill prepared to stand up for ourselves and demand those that need help – seek help. Instead we silently watch Governments introduce more and more politically correct rules to control our loves. When did we become so sheep like?
Shopping with Amazon is easy. A click of the mouse and your parcel is delivered from a depot in the UK. Yet it is an order placed in another sovereign state, and taxed abroad. Opening your account with an unregulated operator, with all the ills that entails, is quite simply, a click of that same mouse
It is offshore black market companies which will benefit from excluded customers who change their mind and are told ‘no’ by a regulator. Forcing people onto the black market, should not be the by product of protecting that element of problem gamblers. We should ask them to help themselves.
Train, educate, intervene positively. These are the answers to the issue of problem gambling. Prohibition shouldn’t be entering the starting stalls.
.If the Gambling Commission mandate operators should obey people’s wishes, they too should appreciate there’s an equal requirement on them to respect the same, if an individual decides he wants to gamble again.