Labour’s Roy Hattersley has criticised his own party’s ‘shameful’ gambling legislation, introduced when Labour were in Government, as Britain’s biggest casino opens.
The new casino is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, in East London.
Lord Hattersley criticised the casino for portraying itself as simply another form of family entertainment and he highlighted some of the “battle-hardened gamblers” who were at the venue.
Labour’s 2005 Gambling Act, which came into force in 2007, ushered in a comprehensive deregulation of gambling, including allowing advertising and online betting for the first time.
Lord Hattersley, who held a Labour seat in Birmingham for over 30 years, commented: “Gambling corrupts. And there is no reason to believe that most of the British public want it to spread like a plague through our towns and cities.”
And he warned that “nurturing the ‘something for nothing’ culture that lies at the heart of gambling” was helping to create “a worryingly detrimental effect on this country”.
He said that the “decision to promote gambling as a weapon in the war against economic decline — shamefully taken by a Labour Government — is an affront to the idea of Britain as it was and as it ought to be”.
Focusing on the London casino he commented that bosses there “believe they operate ‘socially responsible casinos’ which provide family entertainment rather than a chance for ‘big rollers’ to risk years of savings in the hope of winning a sudden fortune”.
But he said at the venue, which is run by Aspers, there was “a scattering of sad-faced men who walked away when they were approached”.
And he commented there were some who were “undoubtedly battle-hardened gamblers — ‘hard cases’ sitting at slot machines who might appear as minor characters in a gangster movie”.
Lord Hattersley added: “Outside Aspers, the real world with all its wonders was turning. Inside, men and women were finding pleasure in staring at a screen and pressing buttons in the hope that the sudden appearance of a row of particular pictures would mean that they had won a few pounds.”