Glasgow Treasurer calls for more information on gambling

Glasgow Treasurer calls for more information on gambling

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 Totally Gaming
Paul Rooney accused politicians of relying on "guesswork"

A senior figure in Scotland’s biggest council has called for the establishment of a commission to collect evidence to help politicians decrease the “devastating” impact of problem gambling in the country.

Paul Rooney, Glasgow City Treasurer, said that existing policies are tantamount to guesswork and accused those in power of having “little interest” in asking how problem gambling can be curbed.

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering two different proposals – one which would allow Scottish Ministers to reduce the number of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in new premises and one to extend that power to existing shops – but Rooney said that public policy would be more successful if legislators were better informed.

“Problem gambling is a serious public health issue with devastating consequences." Rooney said. "We need to wake up to that fact.

“Without a better understanding of what influences problem gambling and how it plays out in villages, towns and cities across Scotland, public policy will continue to be based on well-intentioned guesswork and it will continue to fail.”

Rooney is an outspoken critic of FOBTs and the impact they are having in the Glasgow area. Last year, research by a cross-party council sounding board found more than £500,000 is ploughed into around 800 machines in just over 200 city betting shops every day.

Rooney believes that the growth of FOBTs has had an impact far beyond the doors of betting shops.

“There are fundamental issues for families – for example, domestic violence and increased emotional, behavioural and substance abuse problems among children – and there is a broad impact on wider society in terms of everything from crime to employment,” Rooney said.

“As a country, we have been tip-toeing around these issues for years.”

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