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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas