Sacked former Labour frontbencher Michael Dugher, popped out of his Christmas wrapping into the Sun newspaper decrying Conservative plans to deal with FOBTs. Instead, he argued that the Government should be looking at problem gambling on the National Lottery – those darn dangerous twice weekly draws and scratch cards you must keep queuing up to buy. They are so much more dangerous than those £300 a minute fast action roulette machines that Dugher’s mate – the CEO of the bookmakers’ trade body – has been taken on to protect.
Dugher must have stopped reading the newspapers and conveniently overlooked the plethora of FOBT associated violent incidents being reported in betting shops when he said “Compared with alternative places to gamble, betting shops have professional staff to help punters and they are subject to stringent checks”. The professionalism of staff is not in doubt, but the ability of one member of staff, lone working in a betting shop to deal with the often violent fall-out created by excessive FOBT losses is certain to dampen that professionalism. Those “alternative places” to gamble refuse to operate their premises with one member of staff.
Dugher, who sees himself as some sort of working class hero riding to the defence of betting shops has inadvertently overlooked the fact that his own party wants action on FOBTs; the Liberal Democrats want action on FOBTs, UKIP want action on FOBTs, the Greens want action on FOBTs, the Church is getting ready to call for action on FOBTs, the Scottish and Welsh Governments want action on FOBTs, 93 Councils (mainly Labour) want action on FOBTs and even the Tories want action!
Looks like Dugher is carving out a new role for himself on the Labour back benches teaming up with Tory embarrassment, Philip Davies, in the FOBT awkward squad!
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