It’s extremely disappointing, but ultimately not surprising, due to the availability of gambling both on the high street and online, that the number of serious problem gamblers has increased by such large numbers.
Gambling related harm is become more prevalent and is causing anguish and grief for thousands of individuals and their families and friends. The Government must take action to support those who are problem gamblers and I hope the review of FOBTs will lead to much needed stake reduction, as a step in the right direction.
Next month, I will be visiting the National Problem Gambling Clinic to speak to specialists who treat people with gambling related harm and hear from them how the issue is growing and what actions must be taken.
I would encourage anyone with gambling issues to seek the necessary support and also check the GambleAware website for more information.
I welcome the confirmation from the Minister for Sport that the Government will announce its response to the Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures in October, as she had previously indicated to me.
The unwelcomed intervention by the Chancellor, who was only thinking about Treasury coffers, to scupper any stake reduction of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) will hopefully now dissipate.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling have previously informed me that in my constituency of Inverclyde the cash inserted in FOBTs was over £11.5m in 2016, with losses amounting to nearly £3m.
I hope the Minister will now come to the Chamber and announce radical plans for addressing gambling related harm and ultimately reduce the unit stake on FOBTs.
Those of you that have listened to my speeches, read my column and diary in the Greenock Telegraph or are familiar with my musings in Clydelife magazine, Politics Home, House magazine and a few other publications shall be aware that I like a quote.
If someone has polarised an opinion into a neat soundbite that reflects my views or inspires my actions then I am happy to quote them. From Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King to Groucho Marx and Spike Milligan I have ripped them all off. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be on the other side of this process but to my utter amazement and delight it was brought to my attention that Guy Standing (great name) quoted me in his latest book on Basic Income. When the guru quotes the pupil it’s a red letter day. It shall be with an extra spring in my step that I address the Basic Income Earth Network in the Portuguese parliament at the end of September.
While I was motivated by my inclusion in Guy’s book I am continually dismayed by the erosion of Inverclyde. Buildings with heritage are left to rack and ruin. The latest being Highlanders Academy and the Asylum at Ravenscraig. To top this off we fail to maximise the potential of our coastline. A coastline that has changed shape a number of times throughout history. Most of the docks that once hosted ships from across the globe have now been filled in. The industries that these docks once sustained, both large and small, have disappeared. In their place we have a range of buildings that could easily have been located elsewhere within Inverclyde but instead they inhabit plots of land that should have been used to promote maritime industry. A housing estate, call centre and a bar diner could all be located away from the shore but maritime industry does by its very definition benefit from and in most cases depend upon a coastal location. In Inverclyde we even have a cinema and bingo hall in locations with prime views but these buildings do not require windows. There are still plots that remain to be utilised but they fall into two categories. They are either ear marked for housing or land banked as an investment with possible developers being spurned. The common land of Inverclyde should be for the common good of its citizens. The opportunities that Inverclyde’s coastal land provide should not be over looked for short term gain nor be allowed to go untapped so multi-national companies can buy them up while providing no benefit for the local community.