The UK has patiently been awaiting a verdict from their Members of Parliament regarding keeping or lowering the maximum bet allowed on fixed-odds-betting-machines.
Meanwhile, Labour party deputy leader Mr. Tom Watson has spoken up about the UK’s gambling problem with a very clear statement. He is not speaking from a place of moral issues, but instead a place of citizens’ health and quality of life.
Since 2005, the UK has had one of the most liberal, open-minded gambling markets in the entire world. The government issued an act that allowed this on purpose. The gaming industry claimed that their industry was no different than any other industry within the leisure spectrum. It is primarily safe, but some players are not able to stick to responsible gambling. The Labour accepted this claim and opened the industry to more freedom.
While this mentality opened up a door of liberty for consumers in the UK, it eventually took away that freedom because consumers got themselves into financial trouble. As the country also saw an increase in technological advancement, the gambling industry began to change. Consumers could gamble from their mobile phones, enabling them to risk a lot more money in a shorter amount of time.
Roy Hattersley was the deputy leader of the Labour party. His grandfather massively struggled with gambling, and it eventually took over his life. Hattersley commented on the direction of the gaming industry saying, “Respect of the individual requires us to allow men and women to make their own mistakes. But in a civilised society, there is no freedom to exploit others and no freedom to destroy families.”
Watson does not want to restore policies that prohibit gambling entirely, but he does want to make it a healthier leisure activity for citizens of Britain because it is currently taking over too many peoples’ lives. He wants the UK to recognize obsessive gambling as an issue of Public Health.
He also wants to include the Department of Health on the issue, but they have shown no interest in participating. It will be interesting to see who jumps on board with Mr. Watson and who does not. The industry is looking at some changes, but how much change is the question.