The gambling industry has always been an easy target, but recent negativity has increasingly placed it in the crosshairs of politicians. Lord Chadlington is the latest to take aim, and he wants an “independent commission” funded by a mandatory levy of one percent.
In an editorial published in The House Magazine, Lord Chadlington – the Tory party’s in-house PR veteran – has called for a new “independent commission” to “execute and monitor”a “four-point programme”for the gambling industry,starting with increased research and the immediate implementation of the FOBT stake cut.
Someone seems to have to have poked the Lord from an age long slumber – old news, old ideas and a framework that wasn’t even Lord Chadlington viable when the idea was first mooted a decade ago.
But this is British politics in 2018 and any old thing goes.
The 75 year old, who founded PR firm Shandwick in 1974, also suggests a ban on all gambling advertising around live sporting events, a DCMS-backed nationwide programme to help problem gamblers, and an increase on the 0.1 percent voluntary levy – which he believes “must be made mandatory and increased to 1 percent”.
Asking, “What should the government be doing?”, Lord Chadlington lays out his four-point programme: “First, we urgently need more independent and objective research into gambling – particularly the suicide risks and impact on children. Good and effective law is based on robust information,” he begins.
“Second,I support the DCMS’s plans to educate young people about gambling-related harm, but when the government realises something is addictive and harmful to the young – like fixed-odds betting terminals – then we must implement that brave decision immediately and not wait until 2020! We must lead by example.
“Third, consideration must be given to a ban on all gambling advertising during live sporting events and an hour before and after the screening. Further independent research is again needed to evaluate whether a blanket ban is required.
“Fourth, we need a nationwide programme backed by the DCMS and the DHSC to help those already addicted, those at risk of gambling-related harm and supporting affected families.”
Lord Chadlington’s next question: “Who should fund this four-point programme?” And his answer, of course, is operators. All operators, and mandatorily.
“Currently there is a 0.1 percent voluntary gambling industry levy which this year will generate less than £10m,” he states. “This levy must be made mandatory and increased to 1 percent, generating some £130m every year to be directed to a new independent commission which would execute and monitor the above strategy.”
While the 1 percent figure appears to be plucked from thin air, Lord Chadlington’s frustration with the industry is rooted in the lack of FOBT stake cut implementation and the proliferation of gambling advertising – fresh in the memory following this summer’s World Cup. For inspiration, he looks to Australia and Italy, where decisions to ban gambling advertising have been swift.
“To ensure that our UK gambling legislation is fit for purpose,we need this independent review and scrutiny of digitised multimedia marketing if we are to avoid a gambling epidemic in the UK and if we are not going to look back in ten years’ time and wonder why we sat on our hands,” he concluded. “Italy has recognised the severity of the problem and acted decisively. Why can’t we?”
Indeed, if Lord Chadlington had his way, the delayed Triennial Review implementation would quickly become a triennial revolution.