The All-Party Betting & Gaming Group will no longer host independent seminars debating and analysing UK gambling industry policies after a decision was made to restrict the group’s activities.
Steve Donoughue, Group Secretariat, sent an email to members confirming the closure of the APPG following the appointment of Laurence Robertson, Conservative MP for Tewkesbury, as the group’s new Chair.
The email stated that Robertson had chosen to limit the group’s activities and terminate its seminars. As a result, Donoughue confirmed that he had ended his 15-year tenure and would be shutting down the group’s website.
“As I work, voluntarily, at the behest of the Chair, there is nothing I can do about it and so my 15 years in the role must come to an end. During this time I have enjoyed myself thoroughly under the expert joint Chairmanships of Baroness Golding and Lord Lipsey followed by an enormously fun decade under Philip Davies MP,” the email read.
Donoughue reflected that the group had a ‘hugely influential impact on gambling policy’, and that participating members should be proud about their open discussions on gambling.
As a policy advisor, Donoughue remarked that it was ‘crying shame that the group was ending at a time when its expertise was needed the most’.
“The forces of prohibition and populism have never been stronger in their emotive and evidence-light attacks on a great industry and the potential of a massive black-market explosion due to over-regulation, especially the fatally flawed concept of affordability,” Donoughue remarked.
With the industry at a critical juncture, Donoughue warned that the sector would suffer without an independent advisory to debate its complexities in parliament.
Donoughue claimed that the appointment of Robertson – who is a paid advisor of the industry’s Betting and Gaming Council – went against the ‘very nature of the group’ which was set up as an open forum to discuss gambling policies.
“This includes the good and the bad, the libertarians and the nanny staters. I like to think that during my time we supported the industry when it needed it and we criticised it when it was due,” he added.
Bidding farewell, Donoughue stated that he would be publishing a PhD on the 2005 Gambling Act – judging its implementation and implications.