A week after the “social responsibility” credentials of bookmakers had been demolished by the actions of Paddy Power pursuing and pushing a problem gambler into abject poverty, Malcolm George the CEO of their trade association (ABB) told his members “In everything we do, every action we take, we must ensure that we are focused on our number one priority – protecting shops…”. No mention of a recent spate of suicides among their FOBT customers.
Quickly bypassing his Irish members’ debacle, Malcolm turned his attention to the other gambling sectors – bingo, amusement arcades, casinos and online operators, which up to now have left the bookmakers besieged in their FOBT bunker to fend for themselves. “We are all stronger if we act as an industry and I say this with sadness – to those of you in other sectors who consort with the sources of these attacks, who provide them with support – stop now,” begged Malcolm.
So far no white knight from a bingo hall or anywhere else has come galloping to Malcolm’s aid and what his speech underlines more than anything is that the bookmakers are not just at war with politicians, the media and the public, they are also at war with their industry colleagues – even among their own gang.
If all this isn’t bad enough, the bookmakers’ only vociferous cheer leader in the House of Commons was this weekend floored by the Times who revealed cozy deals on his betting account with Ladbrokes and more jolly jaunts with the other big bookies.
Is it time for little known Labour MP Chris Evans to fill Davies’ void? Malcolm welcomed Chris with open arms at the ABB’s annual general meeting last week. What are the odds on him being floored by the Times at some point, too?