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North East MP backs gambling as a leveller

A North East Labour MP with a record of support for stricter controls over the gambling industry is now backing the sector as a means of levelling up left-behind areas.

‘The betting and gaming industry is one sector closing the opportunity gap in the North East, directly employing over 2,000 people in betting shops and casinos as well as supporting many hundreds more in sports such as racing’, writes Grahame Morris, MP for Easington in County Durham.

‘In total, the regulated betting and gaming sector supports a staggering 119,000 jobs, contributes £7.7bn to the economy and generates £4.5bn in taxes for the Treasury annually.’

Morris writes in what is described as ‘partner content’ with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) in The House, an online cross-party newsletter for parliamentarians.

The Morris/BGC article gives a brief account of some of the industry’s activities in the north of England and Midlands, mentioning Flutter’s ‘bustling centre of excellence’ in Leeds ‘delivering well-paid high skill jobs our economy needs’, and Bet365’s ‘British success story’ in Stoke-on Trent ‘providing excellent long-term career opportunities for families across the area.’

It adds: ‘This is levelling up in action, investing in our regional economies and delivering well-paid, high-skill jobs in former industrial communities in the North East, North West and the Midlands.

‘Despite delivering the government’s levelling up agenda, this investment in local economies, people and skills is under threat through government regulations. A new White Paper, which has been repeatedly delayed, is expected soon with a raft of changes.

‘The betting and gaming industry embraces change, but unfair regulations will not protect the thousands of people working in the sector. We need balance, protecting the vulnerable while not impacting the majority who enjoy a bet.’

According to the website They Work for You, Morris has almost always voted for greater regulation of gambling. Of seven Commons votes listed, all between 2011 and 2014, he supported greater regulation six times and was absent once.

This is the second time in under four months that the BGC has published a similar article with MP support. It did so in the newsletter PoliticsHome, quoting the Conservative MP for Stoke Central, Jo Gideon, on June 6, as reported here on June 7.