And as if to reinforce the message from the item below on the drug & alcohol dependency racket, a new scam to ‘protect’ gamblers was announced yesterday at http://www.gov.im/lib/news/socialcare/thelaunchofgamca.xml.
No surprise to see the Isle of Man Alcohol Advisory Service is behind it. They have struggled for a year or two now to justify further direct government funding, or to use their relationship with government to demand ‘charitable donations’ from local retailers in return for not further infantalising the whole process of buying alcohol. Those who have had compulsory interaction with such ‘advisers’ tell me the service quality, by any professional standard, is so laughable that anyone who thought they had a problem and could afford treatment would be better off throwing money at a passing drunk than employing these bozos. They live off government money because nobody else is dumb enough to give it to them.
Even before checking further into this racket, I could predict that the set-up would be similar to that which has given several prodnoses a steady income from other ‘vices’. The trick is, start a moral panic, lobby for a government advisory body, get invited to be on it and then use it to get (1) a regular payoff from the industry in return for your silence and (2) the perpetuation of the advisory body by offering the odd feelgood, but practically pointless, ‘policy’.
Take, for example, the ridiculous one whereby the employees of supermarkets (many teenage or if older desperate for regular employment) dare not sell alcohol to anyone under 25 (even though they are merely required to challenge anyone who looks under 25 and legally are actually obliged to sell to any sober person of 18 or more who requests alcohol rather than demanding it with menaces). I know of cases where management has sacked employees who sold to 18-25 year-olds in order to scare the rest and impress government watchdogs. Those former employees (even though they have done nothing illegal or immoral) then cannot get other work for months.
Sure enough, when I check out Gamcare (or to give their full and misleading name, the National Association for Gambling Care, Educational Resources and Training) on the England and Wales Charity Register and elsewhere, the scam follows that practiced by various UK alcohol and substance ‘advisory’ charitable bodies.
For example, in 2007 GamCare received 80% of a £3.5 million budget set aside on government mandate by the UK gambling industry to promote responsible gambling. Neither the UK government nor the gambling industry are open about what happened after that, but back in 2008 it was expected £4.76 million in funding would be demanded for 2009, with that number jumping to £5.34 million in 2010 and 2011.
Sure enough, the last accounts submitted by Gamcare reveal that £2.7 million was coughed up, that the ‘charity’ got no other income apart from their gambling industry hush money and that it did not expect to tap anyone else for the cash for the foreseeable future.
In return for what?
Well, companies who carry the GamCare logo at their establishments or on their websites ‘voluntarily comply with a set of guidelines towards the promotion of responsible gaming’, according to the official line. And that’s about it really.
Yes, there’s a website, a gambling helpline, a chance for one–to-one advice (though not necessarily from anyone required to be trained to any obvious standard that I can spot)..blah, blah, blah…bit like the new IOM set-up for this racket, and the established ones for others, in fact.
And like the IOM racket(s), only one trustee for Gamcare has any obvious professional and relevant background. The other names look like the kind of privileged layabouts you see in any average New Years Honours list for…..well, probably for being privileged and getting out of bed long enough to wander into a few government advisory bodies and pick up an OBE in return, to be honest.
Actually, that would be better than the Manx industry standard, which is for an increasingly smaller and smaller, more self-selecting gang of unskilled busybodies to elect themselves onto ever more ‘advisory bodies’ and so avoid having to actually seek employment or pay their own way for yet another year or two.
It strikes me that, compared to that, the average smack dealer is a responsible member of the community. Probably pays more taxes and provides a more useful public service too.
3 years ago