Tory’s conscience clear on betting
BURY North Conservative MP David Nuttall has hit back over criticisms levelled at him by a prominent gambling regulation campaigner.
Mr Nuttall has been taken to task by Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, over a question he asked in Parliament earlier this month.
On September 2, Mr Nuttall asked MP Brandon Lewis, secretary of state for communities and local government, how many meetings his Parliamentary under-secretary MP Don Foster had arranged with Mr Webb.
Liberal Democrat Mr Foster had proposed a motion giving more power to councils to deal with the number of betting shops in their borough.
Mr Webb claims Mr Nuttall was acting on behalf of bookmakers and not his constituents when he put this question forward.
Mr Nuttall said: “I am completely independent, and as the Register of Interests shows I do not take payment or any other hospitality from any third parties.
“My interest is purely in stopping the advancement of the nanny state. No one forces people to go into a bookmakers or to place a bet and I think it should be up to my constituents to decide how much they want to spend on gambling, not the government.”
Mr Webb and the Campaign for Fairer Gambling are fighting against roulette machines in betting shops, known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. They allege these terminals to be the most addictive form of gambling and ask the government to reduce the maximum stake per spin from £100 to £2.
Mr Webb said: “Having retired, I now fund and work tirelessly on a campaign to stop bookmakers exploiting vulnerable communities with highly addictive FOBTs.
“If David Nuttall had the best interests of his constituents at heart, he would be supporting my campaign rather than try to undermine it.”
According to Campaign for Fairer Gambling estimates, there are 131 FOBTs in 36 betting shops across the Bury North and Bury South constituencies.
Their figures suggest in 2012 around £147 million was staked on FOBTs in the borough, making £4.9 million of profit for bookmakers – £1.1 million from problem gamblers.
Mr Nuttall added: “Many people enjoy gambling and it is one of the most highly regulated activities in the country. The argument about these particular machines is flawed when one considers anyone can wager any amount of money on a five furlong race which is over in minutes!”
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