Friday the 13th, 2012 : UK PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE HEARS FORMER MINISTER OPINIONS
Familiar political names from the past as committee continues its enquiry into British gambling
Former political leaders responsible for gambling in the UK gave evidence to a UK parliamentary select committee Thursday to further its study of the British gambling industry, which includes the possibility of secondary licensing and taxation of online gambling.
Appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the Grimmond Room at Portcullis House were former Secretary of State Tessa Jowell and former Sport and Tourism Minister Richard Caborn.
Also scheduled to appear were Andre Wilsenach, Executive Director, Alderney Gambling Control Commission; Phillip Brear, Gambling Commissioner, Gibraltar Gambling Commission and Graham White, Chairman, Jersey Gambling Commission.
Caborn revealed that the Labour Party dropped its 2005 plans for multiple land super-casinos in the face of a negative campaign by the national newspaper, The Daily Mail. He said the Labour government at the time had cut the proposed number after a strong public campaign in the Daily Mail opposed the expansion of gambling in the run-up to the 2005 general election.
Tessa Jowell, the then culture secretary, conceded that in April 2005 there would only be provision for one of the controversial complexes instead of the eight originally proposed.
Asked if the super casino concessions were a political decision, Caborn told the committee: “There were two things. One is you’ve got a campaign run by a national newspaper and … you were coming up to an election in 2005.”
"That was the reality of it. Did you save the chunk of the Bill – online gambling and all that – did you save all that and do a deal on wash-up?"
Jowell said the pull back was a “small price to pay” for securing the 2005 Gambling Act, but she was more circumspect about the political pressures for making the decision. She said the decision was based on "parliamentary politics", not "external forces".
The super-casino plan was eventually dropped altogether in 2008.
Jowell claimed there also were issues with betting machines.
"I think it is possible to lose, if you just play constantly for an hour, you can lose GBP 18,000. I would be concerned about that," she said, adding that the machines had been put "on probation" by Labour politicians because the government at the time had been worried about unintended consequences and problem gambling.