SNP MSP Stuart McMillan has today welcomed the SNP’s manifesto commitment to fight for control over gambling legislation to the devolved to Scotland. Powers which would give the Scottish Parliament the ability to tackle the proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in communities across Scotland.
The commitment, which was marked out in the party’s manifesto for the General Election launched this week, pledges that the party will “argue for Scotland to have full responsibility for the regulation of gambling.”
While the original report by the Smith Commission said that the “power to prevent the proliferation” of FOBTs would be devolved, the draft clauses announced by David Cameron would only allow the Scottish Government to amend the number of machines in any individual premise when a new betting license is sought.
Mr McMillan, who has been campaigning on the issue and led a Members’ Debate in the Scottish Parliament last year, said:
“I am delighted that the commitment to fight for control over gambling legislation to be devolved to Scotland has been reiterated in the party’s General Election manifesto.
“FOBTs blight communities across Scotland – with absolutely disastrous social and economic consequences.
“Despite the recommendations of the Smith Commission that the Scottish Parliament should be able to act, Westminster has chosen to ignore the problem by watering down the draft clauses to the point where they will not address the root of the problem.
“Westminster needs to think again and SNP MPs will use their clout at Westminster to ensure that Scotland gains the tools we need to tackle the scourge of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – just as the Smith Commission recommended.”
SNP Candidate for Inverclyde Ronnie Cowan added:
“At the moment £100 can be blown on a 20 second spin. That’s £300 in a minute – or £18,000 every hour. It is little wonder that FOBTs have become known as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.
“Electing a strong group of SNP MPs a week on Thursday will give Scotland a voice at Westminster. A voice which will allow us to push for the powers required to tackle the rise in these machines.”