We should have loosened our gambling laws long ago

Share

Once you get past the hackneyed title, "A safe bet for success", the Government's White Paper on liberalising gambling has much to recommend it. We – at least some of us – already derive pleasure from plenty of things that are risky: drinking, smoking and dangerous sports, to name but three. There is no reason why that list should not include gambling and why the experience should not be made a good deal more pleasant – and possibly, even, profitable.

Once you get past the hackneyed title, "A safe bet for success", the Government's White Paper on liberalising gambling has much to recommend it. We – at least some of us – already derive pleasure from plenty of things that are risky: drinking, smoking and dangerous sports, to name but three. There is no reason why that list should not include gambling and why the experience should not be made a good deal more pleasant – and possibly, even, profitable.

It is true that the incidence of addiction may rise, that those tempted to spend the most will often be those least able to afford it and that some individuals will face ruin as a result of easier access to betting. That, however, is a matter of personal responsibility, and many "problem" gamblers already find ways to feed their habit – the higher spenders by crossing the Channel or Atlantic, where casino gambling has long been more accessible than it is here. The internet offers further, fast-growing opportunities.

Overall, the benefits from loosening the current draconian regulations far outweigh the dangers. Gambling has come a long way from the furtive betting shops of the recent past, but the time is long overdue for those inclined to have a flutter to be able to do so in convenient, civilised and comfortable surroundings. Once the requirement is dropped that casinos operate as private clubs, the number of such gambling halls is likely to soar, along with the profits, the tax revenue and the winnings.

Declining seaside resorts are banking on a revival led by new casinos and related facilities, such as hotels, restaurants, theatres and spas. The experience of France and parts of the US that have liberalised gambling supports their optimism. There is money to be made and money – now untapped – that can be put to good use, as the National Lottery has shown.

No one pretends that gambling is an especially honorable pastime. It is a vice. The soullessness of many gambling establishments, especially those dominated by one-armed bandits, may repel many people who are drawn to casinos for the first time. They are not places for children – and the proposed stiffer rules on the admission of minors even to amusement arcades are all to the good. Adults, though, should be able to decide for themselves when, where and whether to gamble. The job of the Government is to stay out of the way, keep crime at bay – and smile all the way to the bank.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jeremy Corbyn could be about to pull off a shock victory over the mainstream candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall   

Every club should be like Labour – you can’t join as a new member unless you’re already a member

Mark Steel
The biggest task facing Labour is to re-think the party's economic argument, and then engage in battle with George Osborne and his policies  

There's a mainstream alternative to George Osborne's economics

John Healey
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works