More bad publicity is dogging the gambling industry after a Daily Mail reporter infiltrated the offices of Bet365 in the tax haven of Gibraltar and discovered that the firm paid problem gamblers a proportion of their losses back, commonly 10%, to keep them gambling. And many bookmaking firms do likewise, sometimes up to 20% as well as rewarding big losers with VIP freebies such as Cup Final tickets.

Bet365 pays its chief executive Denise Coates £265 million a year in salary and dividends. Another beneficiary is actor Ray Winstone who fronts chummy TV ads for Coate’s firm, urging viewers to bet on live events.

The blame for the current immoral mess has been laid at the door of former Labour PM Tony Blair, who liberalised gambling laws in 2005, many now say recklessly, and opened the Pandora’s Box. Our current Conservative government has not shown much better judgment in its delaying of a much-needed crackdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT’s), many installed in some of the poorest parts of the country, on the basis of government concern that the crackdown deprived the Treasury of its lucrative cut from the losses suffered by problem gamblers.

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