A moral gamble for Government

No sooner has the Government extracted itself from one moral muddle – its less than consistent policy on tobacco sponsorship – than it seems headed for another one. This time, gambling.

It has zealously announced that Pronto!, a rapidly-repeating online lottery game played in pubs and devised by Lord Mancroft’s Inter Lotto, should be and will be banned. All very well, except that Pronto! is entirely within the law as it stands. Indeed, the Gaming Board – which officiates on these matters – has gone so far as to award it a licence and, if Inter Lotto’s marketing plan is on schedule, Pronto! will launch on Thursday.

This in itself is embarrassing for the Gaming Board which, as the government watchdog, is now called upon to invigilate on an enterprise it previously sanctioned. And for the Government itself, which will have to resort to the cumbersome and time-consuming expedient of passing new legislation through Parliament to get it banned.

Imagine the fun Mancroft will have lacerating the prospective legislation in the House of Lords. To begin with, he will publicly expose the inconsistency of the Gaming Board, which has blown first hot, then cold on Pronto! in a matter of months. He will then round on his favourite topic: unlevel playing fields. Why is it that, where gambling is concerned, every other organisation must play with the odds stacked against it, while the National Lottery and its operator Camelot apparently have carte blanche?

His hand will be strengthened – and his capacity for making mischief reinforced – by the disclosure in Marketing Week that Camelot is planning to launch daily draws in addition to its two weekly events. Are these frequent Camelot draws not just as harmful to our moral welfare as the Inter Lotto ones the Government has condemned? Would it not, therefore, be the utmost hypocrisy for the Government to support the Camelot proposal?

Up to a point such criticism would be justified. Any government’s attitude to legalised vice is, to say the least, riddled with ambivalence. Just as politicians have always been addicted to the huge tax revenues derived from tobacco consumption, so now they are dependent on the National Lottery to provide funding for various good causes (which might otherwise make a nasty dent in public finances). Such considerations would, for example, account for the otherwise extraordinary rapprochement between Camelot and Government which has taken place since the public acrimony of the Fat Cats scandal.

But the Government has two fig leaves ready to hand. It could support a daily Lottery draw and deflect the charge of double standards by drawing a fine distinction between the Inter Lotto and the Camelot propositions. One involves gambling in alcohol licensed premises, the other does not. Or more simply and brutally, it could put pressure on Oflot, the Lottery regulator, to quash the Camelot proposal.

News, page 5; Profile, page 3

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here