Opposition to the Relaxation of Gambling LawsNovember 2004
CPA Annual Conference October 2002
CPA Council opposes any further relaxation of gambling and notes that until recently, Government policy accepted gambling as a present evil to be tolerated rather than encouraged. Council calls on the Government to think again as proposals in the Budd Report to de-regulate casinos, betting shops, amusement arcades and lottery games would create new poverty, greater numbers of addicts and higher incidences of family breakdowns. The CPA agrees with the criticism of the churches that the idea of social responsibility is not primarily reactive, but should be preventative.
CPA Council notes that this Government has put into legislation for the first time ever the concept that the gambling industry should be encouraged to become ‘successful in the domestic and global marketplace so that it can increase its contributions to the exchequer’. Council observes that the Exchequer already receives £1.5 billion from the proceeds of gambling and that there is no evidence of any public desire for unrestricted access to gambling.
CPA further notes that the view of Christians is not unified on this subject and that the Bishop of Blackburn gave evidence in Parliament that gambling was the lesser of two evils when he was describing the urban deprivation that might be alleviated by economic regeneration brought about by investment in casinos.
CPA Council believes that the CPA has a unique window of opportunity to create a paradigm shift in thinking in this country in legislative and policy development. It calls on the Policy Committee to support proposals that move away from the single issue, stand alone approach to gambling, smoking, drug use and licensing laws for instance, which create fragmented and often conflicting laws. CPA Council calls for a multi-faceted, wide-ranging approach, which looks at the nature and effects of addiction on individuals, families and communities and draws up integrated policy and legislation, which could transform our nation and help bring in the Kingdom of God.
CPA Council proposes:
That the Government be called-on to abandon all attempts at new legislation at this time, in particular the proposal to allow the continuation of ambient gambling for children; the definition of "amusement" machines as safe for children, despite the lack of evidence for this claim; the proposal to allow alcohol to be served at gaming tables and the dropping of membership requirements at casinos and bingo clubs.
That the Government recognise the potential for the speed of deregulation to outstrip the regulatory capabilities of the new Gambling Commission.
That the Government accepts the findings of the 1978 Rothschild Royal Commission into gambling and funds a Gambling Research Unit to monitor and study the incidence, sociology and psychology of gambling.
That new research is required into the effects of the National Lottery on poverty, addiction and family breakdown and until such times as this is done the National Lottery licences should not be extended.
That the CPA begins to implement an integrated approach to policy and legislation beginning with the consideration of the nature of addiction in relation to gambling, licensing and drug laws and other areas where relevant.