Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Don't Bet On Being Left Alone To Gamble

A few weeks ago I briefly blogged my frustration at the US government's attempts to shut down Internet gambling. Fortunately the chances of the same thing happening in the UK appear to have receded slightly.

A report by the Gambling Commission has found that the number of people gambling in this country has fallen in the last few years, despite the growth of Internet gambling and fixed odds betting terminals.

The Commission confesses to being surprised. They'd clearly expected to find that the mean and wicked people who run Internet gambling firms were leaving millions of us poor, confused and defenceless people penniless and destitute as they callously exploited our new-found addiction. So it must have come as a bit of shock to them to find that the 99% of people who do bet in the UK are capable of running their own lives to such an extent that they can gamble responsibly and harmlessly.

I suspect the Commission are secretly disappointed, too. Fewer people's lives to poke their noses into if there's less of a problem than they thought. There's hope for them yet, though; there are, it notes, 250,000 "problem gamblers", and ominously a spokesman for the The Scot Who Rules The English says that problem gambling has to be "tackled".

Even more worrying, the Conservative Party (that which is supposed to stand up for freedom of the individual, if you remember) is talking up the "gambling problem" and is saying that new forms of gambling are creating more addicts, and that allowing betting firms to advertise on television will make matters worse.

Why do these people just not get it ? Why do they not understand that the we are not idiots, that we can run our lives responsibly and we do not need the Government and its quangos to flap around after us like mother hens ?

I don't generally gamble. But there's one bet that's pretty safe. Over the next couple of years some government-sponsored do-gooding quango (and, probably, a couple more political parties) will spring up from somewhere telling us that gambling is a problem that needs greater regulation, and that people who do gamble cannot be left alone to make their own decisions.

By the way, the Gambling Commission looks to be an utterly dreadful organisation, proclaiming on its website that, among other things, it helps "vulnerable people from being harmed or exploited by gambling", and that it's also responsible for "advising local and central government on issues related to gambling". Well, I could give the Gambling Commission some advice, as it happens. And it would end in "off".

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