The Gambling Commission has put The Responsibility in Gambling Trust (RiGT) in charge of researching ‘whether such gambling gives rise to harm or exploitation’, in children. The trust is also responsible ‘to make it less likely that people will become problem gamblers and more likely that those who do will be able to seek and to secure effective help.’ (From the homepage of their website).
Despite these high sounding ideals, the RiGT is funded by the gambling industry. Furthermore, many RiGT trustees are senior executives of gambling trade organisations. Because of their vested interests, Christian Voice believes RiGT is not an appropriate body to undertake research on the harmful effects gambling has on children.
National Director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, commented, ‘Given the level of political corruption we have witnessed, I am not surprised to find the Government putting the RiGT in charge of helping, so called, “problem gamblers.” The Trust has just as cushy a relationship with the casino industry as has the Labour Government.’
Casino Advisory Panel
On 10 July it emerged that all five members of the Casino Advisory Panel (the body that was responsible for choosing the locations of the casinos) had a conflict of interest. Members of the group have declared 44 interests, which include shareholdings in leisure companies.
One panel member, James Froomberg, had so many conflicts of interests that he was not able to take part in the initial evaluation of 13 applications.
All five members have had to remove themselves from the process of assessing applications at some point because of invested interests.
Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has also been criticised for having vested interests. Mr. Prescott used his position on the Domestic Affairs Cabinet Committee to deregulate gambling laws and has also chaired the cabinet sub-committee responsible for creating the Casino Advisory Panel.
Mr. Prescott was good friends with Philip Anschutz, whose company is bidding to open England’s first super casino in the Millennium Dome. The two men met socially a number of times. On one of these occasions, Mr. Prescott accepted expensive gifts from Mr. Anschutz, thus breaking the Ministerial Code, which prohibits a public servant from ‘accept[ing] gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation.’
Mr Prescott acknowledged the meetings but said they had not discussed the sale of the Dome. However, on 6 July, Mr. Prescott admitted he had a formal role with the Dome, and that Mr. Anschutz did give him regular updates.
To guarantee the ‘continued growth’ of gaming, the Labour Government has changed the laws on gambling adverts. On the eve of the Super Casino announcement, the Government relaxed a ban that prohibited gambling operators from advertising on television.
At the present time, advertisements by online gaming operators are breaking the law. This is an offence according to the Gaming Act 1968, which is still in force. The gambling advertisements on billboards across the nation are also illegal.
On November 10, 2005 the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, issued a press notice in which she said, ‘it’s clear that some adverts have been breaking the existing law. I am not willing to turn a blind eye to this and have agreed with the Gambling Commission that we should crack down on advertisers and publishers who knowingly break the law.’
Still this illegal activity continues. The Government has done nothing about it because they don’t want to upset their friends in the powerful gambling industry.
The Bible says those who rule should be: ‘able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.’ (Exodus 18:21)