A North East Labour MP’s support for gambling as a levelling up tool has been rebutted by a party colleague.
Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East, writes the The House, the cross-party online newsletter for parliamentarians, that Labour’s next manifesto must ‘tackle the harm done by gambling.’
Her article comes just days after Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington in County Durham, wrote in the same newsletter in support of gambling as a means of levelling up left-behind areas, as reported here on September 27.
But Harris, without mentioning Morris by name, writes that although it was a Labour government that introduced current gambling legislation in 2005, few could have foreseen the damage that was to come.
‘The gambling industry’, she writes, ‘has had free reign for too long. In a world where technology allows 24/7 access to gambling, it is scandalous that there are no online stake limits and no processes in place to properly monitor affordability.
‘The harm being caused is clear for all to see, with an estimated 400 gambling-related suicides each year, yet despite this the voluntary levy that gambling firms are currently subject to means they are even able to avoid financial responsibility for the damage they cause.
‘Add to this the complete absence of any rules on gambling advertising and we have an industry able to prey on the vulnerable, profit from those who can least afford it and then avoid taking any sort of responsibility.’
Harris believes that the anticipated Gambling Review White Paper will fall short on delivering the widespread change needed and wants Labour’s next manifesto to commit to background affordability checks for those spending over a specified amount, online stake limits, a statutory levy on the industry to fund research, education and treatment, and a curb on advertising including TV and sports promotion.
Harris is a long-term campaigner for tighter controls on gambling and is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm.