"Save our Social Clubs" says Edward Davey
Local Lib Dem MP Edward Davey today launched his 'Save our Social Clubs' petition in response to a Government proposal to ban large prize money gaming machines from all private social clubs.
Currently private social clubs can have gaming machines with a top prize of up to £250. However, a recent Government report* on gambling says the machines are sometimes used by children and should therefore be banned. Yet the Government report failed to recognise these machines generate much-needed funds for local social clubs and can often be crucial to their survival.
Local clubs have contacted Edward Davey about their concerns on these proposals and he has written to Government ministers expressing his concerns with these proposals. Edward Davey believes there are other more sensible measures for dealing with the problem of children gambling on such machines including giving the Gaming Board the right to inspect private clubs where gambling machines are present. He believes local clubs are committed to preventing misuse and would be relaxed about Gaming Board inspection.
Edward Davey MP said:
"Not for the first time, the Government want to ban things when other solutions make greater sense. The campaign in Parliament is growing against this silly bit of nanny state politics: we now need to ratchet up the pressure.
"So I will be writing to local social clubs with a new petition, so we can mobilise club members in opposition to this idea. When the petition is handed in, I will have to declare an interest as a member of The Surbiton Club and the British Legion. Yet I will also be writing to the local Conservative Association, who may be affected, so I cannot be accused of bias!
"Some local clubs are finding it difficult to attract new funds and members, so the banning of these machines could have a terrible effect. Indeed, some clubs are a crucial part of our local community so it is important they are supported as much as possible. "I understand concerns about young people using gaming machines but a blanket ban is not the answer. With the support of local clubs we can show the Government that it should reject this proposal."
* The Government Gaming Review, chaired by Professor Alan Budd
Letter to Government Minister
Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP
Minister for Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
RE: The provision of Jackpot gaming machines in private clubs
I am writing on behalf of a number of social clubs in my constituency concerning the proposals produced by the independent body that looked into gambling in the UK.
Of the 176 separate recommendations, it is recommendation 70 that appears to be of most concern. As you are probably aware, this suggests that gaming machines with a top prize of £250, should be removed from private clubs. Instead, it suggests that they be replaced with 'all-cash' machines, with a top prize of £25.
It appears that this recommendation was made because the review body was concerned about the access to gaming machines by children. Whilst I appreciate that this is a real concern, there are other less dramatic measures that could be used to counter-act this problem. Furthermore, there are already regulations governing the use of these machines by children and penalties for owners who do not enforce them.
Many clubs make a considerable amount from these machines. Often the profit made from the machines makes the difference between a club being able to keep going and closure. Therefore, should this proposal be introduced, there is every likelihood that it will force a large number of clubs to close.
I appreciate that these proposals are at the consultation stage; however I greatly appreciate it if you would confirm that this representation will be taken into account during the consideration of these proposals.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Edward Davey MP