Ex-gambler, ex-Corbyn staffer team up to fight fixed-odds betting terminals

In June the SKWAWKBOX covered the case of bookmaker JenningsBet, which had warned its staff on the eve of the General Election that their jobs were at risk if they voted Labour, because the party planned to place a cap on ‘fixed odds betting terminals’ (FOBTs). The case raised concerns about the risk of companies exercising undue influence on their employees’ voting intentions.

But FOBTs pose an intrinsic threat, because of their addictive nature that has been referred to as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’. Jason Haddigan, a recovered gambling addict, and Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former communications director for Jeremy Corbyn and still a staunch supporter of the Labour leader, have joined forces to campaign for the £2 cap on FOBT stakes proposed by Labour to be imposed – or even for the machines to be outlawed altogether:


The sheer scale of the problem is mind-blowing:.

jason times

Haddigan refers to FOBTs as ‘evil roulette machines’ – others have called them the ‘crack cocaine of gambling. He was brought up gambling – and conning bookies – by his father. His addiction cost him his marriage and led to him squandering huge amounts of money.

Now he has turned his experience into a book designed to help gambling addicts understand and get free of their addiction and to help others understand the cost of gambling to those hooked on it:

jason book.png

Several political parties are in agreement about the need to reduce the cap on FOBT stakes to £2 – but Chancellor Philip Hammond wants to scrap a review of FOBTs and their effects, as Haddigan relates with disbelief in one of his many short videos on the evils of the machines:


But a ray of light has appeared on the horizon with the news that one of the UK’s largest betting companys, Paddy Power Betfair, has indicated it could welcome a cap, possibly the first crack in the industry’s wall of resistance to the idea in spite of the Tories’ obvious readiness to ignore the wellbeing of millions of people:


News which Haddigan welcomed in typical exuberant style:


Haddigan’s book is released 4 September but is available for pre-order and you can follow the author on Twitter at @fancylunch3232.

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