The announcement this morning by Matt Hancock that stakes on gaming machines (FOBTs) in bookies’ shops are to be cut to a maximum of £2 is being spun as a victory for anti-gambling campaigners and social justice warriors from across the political spectrum – uniting IDS and Tom Watson. It is actually a victory for casinos and amusement arcade owners who lobbied hard to hobble their competitors.
One of the main lobbyists for the change was Gabino Stergides, of the trade association for the amusement and gaming machine industry, with whom Matt Hancock is pictured above. Among the other funders of the anti-gaming machines campaign were the casinos Genting, Les Ambassadeurs Club, The Palaces and the Hippodrome Casino. Carolyn Harris, the Labour MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBT, has been wined and dined by Simon Thomas – the owner of the Hippodrome mega-casino. The whole campaign has basically been funded by the bookies’ gambling industry rivals.
The irony is that in a casino £2 is likely to be the minimum not maximum stake. You can lose much more than £100 on the spin of a roulette wheel…
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