Iain Duncan Smith, MP, the self-described “Quiet Man” of British politics, has launched a swingeing attack on the gambling industry.
Duncan Smith’s tirade follows the announcement earlier this month by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that the government has launched an Official Review, long-anticipated, of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Most industry stakeholders concur that the 2005 act is no longer fit-for-purpose in the contemporary fast-paced, rapidly evolving, new world of gambling where online verticals and iGaming are disrupting and replacing traditional over-the-counter bricks-and-mortar action.
Duncan Smith, who enjoyed brief national recognition as one of several failed leaders of the then-opposition Conservative Party during its 13 wilderness years out of power between 1997 and 2010, is currently a vociferous member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm (APPG).
“We [the group] have been calling for reform of our gambling laws for many years, and so I very much welcome the launch of the long-awaited gambling Review published this week,” Duncan Smith wrote in PoliticsHome, an online parliamentary news site.
The Tory backbencher claimed that the gambling industry “extracts” most of its money from those “who are most addicted”.
He alleged: “60 per cent of the profits [come] from just five per cent of gamblers, who are those likely to be experiencing harm.”
And, reinforcing his reincarnation as gambling’s nemesis, he called for the abolishment of the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The arch Brexiteer, Tory leader between 2001-2003, asserted that much testimony given to the APPG should also be considered in the Official Review process.
“We have countless stories of gambling ruining young people’s lives. [This should] form part of the DCMS inquiry,” he said.
Duncan Smith has a long-running beef with the UKGC.
Earlier this year he attacked the commission as “not fit-for-purpose” – despite the UKGC driving a much-lauded crackdown on VIP gambling schemes and leading other progressive moves to counter problem gambling.
“We need a regulatory body that independently monitors the industry,” said Duncan Smith.
VIP schemes should be banned outright — and not just for younger gamblers aged under 26-years, he wrote.
“The gambling industry is in dire need of a reset. It must be made to understand the extent of the responsibilities it holds in order that the public can be better served.”
Few stakeholders in the multi-billion-pound gambling industry would argue with this last sentiment.
The “will” for change, upgrade, modernity is not in dispute. But the “way” most certainly is.