MPs should be pushing back against a harmful industry, not taking gifts from it
The Blair government’s 2005 liberalisation of gambling laws was intended to be a two-sided deal. Regulation of gambling firms would be overhauled and liberalised, and in return they would operate as businesses within the UK, pay tax and be subject to domestic regulation. The gambling firms had other ideas, and moved offshore anyway – where they set up in tax havens like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.
The Gambling Act might have been intended to turn Britain into the gambling hub of Europe, but it succeeded only in making us a leader in the amount of money we lose. We continue to export billions to gambling operators offshore, and with it jobs and corporation tax revenue. We then effectively import the cost of gambling harm, which Public Health England estimates to be £1.27bn a year. This exploitative mess has no upside for the country.