Terence Blacker: Match-fixing is a curse the UK invited in

Britain is notable for the way it has encouraged gambling over the past 10 years

Share

One of the enduring wonders of modern life is the inability of policymakers to understand that actions tend to have obvious consequences. Allow bars and pubs to open longer and alcoholism will increase. Encourage supermarkets to expand and local high streets will soon become dead zones. Anyone with half a brain could anticipate these consequences, yet to politicians they seem to come as a terrible shock.

Over the past few days, there has been much hand-wringing about the effect of the new gambling culture on the Olympics. London 2012 is apparently in danger of becoming not the Green Games, nor even the Austerity Games, but the Dodgy Games. The threat of match-fixing is now more serious than that of doping or terrorism, says the minister responsible, Hugh Robertson.

Can he honestly be surprised? When a globally televised event becomes a medium for gambling, it is hardly a shock that a bit of dishonesty is likely to come into play. With the sort of buck-passing that has become second nature to the current administration, Robertson has been quick to shift the responsibility to other countries. It is those ruthless syndicates in south-east Asia and gangsters on the Indian subcontinent who are to blame, it seems.

Unfortunately, no country has been more enthusiastic in its encouragement of gambling over the past 10 years than Britain. Under Labour's 2005 Gambling Act, restrictions on advertising were eased and casinos encouraged. The Conservatives, less surprisingly, have seen gaming as one of the few money-making boom sectors in a recession.

It is a great time to be in the gambling industry. New technology brings betting into every home. Any suggestion that betting is futile and addictive is undermined by promotion of the National Lottery as a self-interested act of patriotism.

One only has to look at the feverish marketing of gambling – online, in the press, on various digital channels – to realise that its target audience is the poor, the hope-deprived and, above all, the young. Having a bet is promoted on TV and on the internet as a jolly, often profitable extension of the computer game. There are zany graphics, jokey commentaries, the occasional celebrity. At half-time during televised football, Ray Winstone appears in an ad , offering odds on the next to player to score, or the final result. Part of the attraction of the new gambling is that you can bet on virtually anything.

Politicians may intone that the days of the something-for-nothing society are over, and hedge fund managers gambling on the markets may be presented as the villains of the moment, but the great national gaming binge is telling another, truer story. The problem, in other words, is not one of match-fixing, but of corruption of a stealthier, nastier and more general kind.

terblacker@aol.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker