I am depressed by James Duddridge’s call to relax gaming laws for the benefit of casinos in the town.
I have no problem with the casinos that operate in Southend and am not adverse to responsible gambling. I enjoy gambling from time to time so I am no moral puritan on the issue.
However I do think that current gambling laws on balance need to be tightened rather than relaxed, and it worries me that our MP scrutinising the current Gambling Bill feels the opposite. The proliferation of betting shops on every High Street is a real problem, and Mr Duddridge would be better off using his time to address that.
It also makes me deeply uneasy when public bodies advocate gambling as a regeneration strategy. I know from the public reaction when the then Conservative Council Leader Anna Waite launched the doomed ‘super casino’ bid that large numbers of people in Southend share that distaste. Gambling is an activity that causes serious harm to a number of people. To rely on it betrays a worrying lack of confidence in other strategies to bring jobs and investment to Southend.