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The 2005 Gambling Act had been dubbed by some as a tax on the children of poor people - it is taxi drivers and window cleaners who are lured into the 140 existing casinos and who suffer most from them, not aristocrats and crime bosses.
The exact same thing could be said about The National Lottery, this was really the point where it could be said definitely that government had shifted from not just regulating gambling to actually promoting it, at least with Premium Bonds that encouraged people to save money and so had some purpose and beneficial effects.

Maybe with regard to warnings over the effects of gambling they could say "It could be you!".

One way to make the gambling industry more responsible would be to put the liability for bad credit card debt (on gambling transactions) onto the bookmaker rather than the bank.

OT but Very Important - Belgium trying to intimidate Blogger

Belgian Regime Keeps Harassing The Brussels Journal (2)
From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2006-08-09 19:53

This morning the police came to my door again to question me about allegedly racist articles on The Brussels Journal. I was not in. Tonight the local police phoned to “invite” me urgently to the police station. In Belgium any leftist or totalitarianist can lodge a complaint against “internet racism” through a Belgian government website and the judiciary starts an investigation. Apparently someone in Ghent has lodged a complaint against this website. I am not allowed to know who this person is, but I am requested to come to the police station to be interrogated. I told the officer that I refuse to justify my writings for anonymous complaints. “I am not living in the Soviet Union,” I told him (though I fear I am).

As a matter of principle I will not go to the police station. I defend the freedom of the press, which implies the right of journalists not to be questioned by the authorities about articles and opinions that they write or edit. I told the officer that if the police wants to question me they will have to arrest me. The Belgian authorities are clearly intent on intimidating us and closing down this website.

The National Lottery is regressive taxation at it's worst. Those most likely to buy tickets are those who can least afford to. Who benefits? Those that get subsidised tickets at the Royal Opera House etc. subsidised by the lottery. Who is likely to attend such places? The well off who could well afford to pay for such luxuries.

Of all the mistakes that the Clarke/Heseltine governement (the one that had John Major as a figurehead) made, this was one of the worst.

TomTom - very off topic, but very very frightening. How long before Brussells has it's own Gulags to send Euro-Sceptics to?

The ECJ states that it is a crime to seriously criticise the European Union. The law could equally be enforced in the UK as in Belgium. Our turn will be next.

Conservatives must demand withdrawal. Within our own Party under Weakness Hague, we are losing the right to elect eurosceptic MEP's. Freedom of Speech is dying in front of our eyes within the Conservative Party. With it will die democracy. With the death of democracy ultimately comes the end of peace.

For once I agree with you Malcolm. I am off topic.

Except the only way that gambling stands a chance of becoming the social disease that it threatens to be in Britain, is because Parliament is no longer a strong enough force to stop it.

People are used to the government doing whatever they please with payoffs and sexual favours for Prescott, the EU Regions gauleiter of Britain, all an every day occurrence. We lost faith in democracy because we don't have one any more. Nothing to do with the EU? I'll let you decide.

Getting back on topic - gambling WILL become a very serious problem in Britain. The government DOES have the power to stop it. It lacks the will.

How will Parliament stand up to Prescott and his hooker-filled casinos? He pushes through the Regulatory Reform Act which means laws can be made without even being debated or voted.

Our own legal system is overwhelmed with EU law, and is now being implemented by PC approved incompetent judges.

They can do whatever they want. Cameron offers nil opposition. In fact he seems to be sold out to the process of the elimation of British democratic independence.

Prescott's the head of the EU Shadow Govt of Britain, breaking us up into regions which report directly to Brussels. A few casinos and hookers here and there are his little perk. Why not? What's the point into becoming the most powerful man in Britain of you can't get a little bit of what you fancy.

Long term social consequences? I'm not sure Prescott would have any idea as to what that was.

Henry, why are you mentioned me again? I have not commented on this thread at all. Henry clearly you are a very strange chap but delighted that you agree with me even though I didn't say anytthing!

This is yet another law of unintended consequences. Rushed through by Jowell, not thought through by anybody. DC is avoiding this by thinking through each policy in depth before either adopting it, or announcing it.
Cant you DC knockers see what he is working towards? A little patience would be wonderful right now.

This is all talk: in a choice between making money and helping/not hurting the poor, I know which side the Conservatives will go for, Cameroon or otherwise.

I've never understood this fear of gambling. Really, what's wrong with a casino?

I'm certain that compulsive losers will find a way, be it maxing their credit cards or bidding beyond their means on eBay - it doesn't matter. You can't fight an addict's nature like that. It's like trying to "hide the bottle" from an alcoholic. Total waste of effort.

And, for the huge, vast majority of people, gambling is just play, if it's anything at all. It's not as if gambling addiction were some huge social problem. It's not even as if it were common.

So really, what's the fuss?

Why are people blaming gambling corporations and the government for the losses of those who choose to gamble? If I go and throw all my money away down a casino that's my own stupid fault. Blaming the government or corporations is a typical socialist response. Whatever happened to free will and freedom of choice?

I don't mean this in a high-minded way or anything, but Julian and Richard --- I do think that your "ultra" position (which I would paraphrase as Nothing to do with the state what I do with my money/therefore what's wrong with casinos) is a bit "first order".

I mean it's "first order" correct but breaks down two steps down the line. Before I say why I think that is, I want to say that I think casino expansion policy is just disgusting from any conceivable angle. BUt I'm not a libertarian.

Here's why I think it's wrong from even a libertarian spectrum perspective. OK First order solution; it's my money to do with as I please. However, conditional on that casiono expansion it is highly probable that social problems will expand. Therefore (since we're not about to enter a libertarian nirvana, end-of-welfare type world) the tax take from non-gamblers will increase (to pay for the problems of gamblers and those suffered by proxy by their blameless dependents). Therefore at teh second order it's not even a good policy for small-state advocates.

Neither here nor there from my point of view. It just stinks to push gambling at the people with the least. I think this policy is the one that astonishes me about our administration the most. To paraphrase the Kinnock - You start by getting too close to big business. A shady deal there, a shady deal there. Bit by bit your integrity slips away until you end up with the moral obscenity of a Labour government - a Labour government - rushing around Docklands in government mercedes, desperate enough to get shot of the Dome that it'll amend gambling legislation to benefit it's new-found-best-mates, and damn the consequences for the communities that founded our party and looked to its leadership for inspiration.

Graeme, I actually agree with your main points. My post was in response to the fact that much of the blame for gambling problems was being put at the door of the government and gambling corporations instead of those that choose to gamble.

The National Lottery is not a "tax" on anybody, not on the poor nor on the stupid, as nobody is compelled by law to buy tickets. I remember Heseltine swearing blind that lottery money would never be used as a substitute for government expenditure, and not believing it at the time. The best way to benefit from the lottery is to not to buy tickets, and so allow others to voluntarily take on part of the genuine "tax" burden.

Unlike the Lottery where statistically the average inveterate player will eventually recover about half of the money used to buy tickets, Premium Bonds guaranteed return of all the money used to buy the bonds, only the interest received being determined by random number generation. It is highly unlikely that anybody would ever be bankrupted by an addiction to Premium Bonds - not unless they actually borrowed to buy them, and their overall debts increased faster than the average interest rate on the Bonds.

I would question whether gambling should be treated as a form of "production" and included in the GDP statistics. If Brown stands up and boasts of economic growth of 2.2% over the last year (sixty-first consecutive quarter of uninterrupted growth, etc) but part of that "growth" is because of the opening of casinos and the expansion of "the gambling sector", is that really progress?

That would be like taking out pubs and nightclubs out of the economic growth figures Denis, as it's all entertainment. There are also companies such as betfair which is an innovative multi national British company with a billion pound + worth. Impossible to take that out of the growth figure.

At the end of the day, do we believe in personal responsabilty or the nanny state? There should be a lot more help for those who face addiction, but like alcohol, do you restrict the majority because of problems faced by the tiny majority.

There is ample anecdotal evidence in support of the hypothesis that gambling is the most regressive form of taxation (i.e. it is those who can least afford it that pay the most). The worst of it is that they do so willingly and all too easily become addicted to it.

Go down to any Supermarket on Lottery days, and you will have no trouble working out which is the longest queue and why. I find it the most depressing sight. The same people, more often than not those who can least afford to waste money, all queuing up week after week in the vain hope of striking it rich for no effort in order to escape their humdrum lives, instead of working to make them better by their own efforts.

I would argue that our society's obsession with getting rich quick for no effort ('I want it all and I want it now') is having a highly corrosive effect on society as a whole. What incentive is there for people to work hard at work, in relationships and family life, when the constant message from the media is 'if it doesn't satisfy you now, get rid'?

To those in positions of power who claim that someone else's addiction is no responsibility of theirs, I would remind them of the following words of Jesus (Luke 17:1-2): "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin."

Unfortunately for the Government, tackling online gambling leaves them on the horns of a dilemma. Currently, firms operate offshore without paying taxes or abiding by regulations. Naturally, Gordon in particular is keen to harvest money from them, but if the tax rate is set at too punitive a rate, they won't come onshore and be regulated.

For the sake of the vulnerable, Tessa needs to make a priority of bringing the major firms onshore & regulate their activity. Without this, there isn't a hope that the online casinos will be safe and responsible.

The paternalistic nonsense in the main article and many of the posts is appalling. Gambling is the spending of private money, not a tax.

If this is the standard of intellectual argument on this site, God help the party and the voters!

Selsdon Man - surely it is the job of any government, right or left, to protect it's citizens against harm. This is especially so of the more vunerable members of society.
It is not paternalistic to do so.

The National Lottery is a maybe not a tax in name, but it is a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the richest. It stinks.

The most serious aspect of the proposed legislation is the impact that it will have on poor families. It is yet another Labour move to take the greatest percentage of their taxation from the poorest members of society - it is the poor who gamble and cannot afford to lose not the millionaires who can.

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