With the island’s e-gaming summit getting underway this morning, a group of protestors have been outside the Villa outlining their concerns about the industry.
The group, led by Phil Craine, recognise the sector’s economic value to the island and how many jobs it supports, but they say this doesn’t mean we can just ignore the social damage gambling can cause.
In 2020, a House of Lords Select Committee report, ‘Gambling Harm – Time for Action’ outside that there are about 1/3 of a million problem gamblers in Britain. This is people who either have a problem or are likely to develop one. The report also outlined that an average of one problem gambling commits suicide everyday.
While the industry makes big profits, the HoL report said that 60% of those profits come from problem gamblers and that for each problem gambler, ‘six others are Hamed by family breakup, crime, unemployment, loss of home and ultimately loss of life’.
The group protesting today said they believe that these figures will apply pro-rata to gamblers on the island.
Their leaflet adds: ‘But there is a further dimension on the island. Since 2005 the industry has grown exponentially. Some of the world’s largest gambling companies are headquartered here. As a sector, e-gaming profits are around £1bn and make up about one-fifth of Manx national income. Such companies have prosopered and provided thousands of handsomely-paid jobs.
‘These firms overwhelmingly target Far Eastern – especially Chinese – punters, where sports betting is severely restricted or even illegal. The IoM offers and attractive low tax regime and – it is alleged – a ‘white label’ reputation, allowing advertising by Asian betting platforms at globally-popular England Premiership football grounds and on team shirts.’
The group add that Tynwald has never really debated the issue, said the Gambling Supervision Commission lacks teeth, or fails to use them and said that ‘jobs and national income must be weighed against the resulting harm and misery, both on and off our shores’.