A train at the buffers in Helensburgh Central

ScotRail roll the dice on gambling act

Infrastructure National news Railways

By scrapping free rail travel for children in January 2019, ScotRail may be in breach of strict legislation designed to protect kids from gambling.

The services that run from Helensburgh Central are considered such a lottery by commuters that charging children to use them potentially breaches section 4 of the Gambling Act 2005, designed to protect minors from nefarious gambling practices.

“We’ve all played ScotRail Roulette, where you’ve paid for a ticket but you might as well have put the money on a horse.” One passenger told us as she waited, hopefully, to board a train this morning, “As an adult, you can accept the risk but for them to start charging children for playing the odds is despicable.”

The move is likely to lead to extended queues at the station ticket office in the morning, as hordes of school children will now have to be seen to be at least pretending to buy a ticket. However, although commuters might be unhappy with the situation, a spokesman for a nearby betting shop told us that his staff would be delighted to serve passengers.

Ladbrokes, at the junction of Sinclair Street and Princes Street, Helensburgh
Ladbrokes, at the junction of Sinclair Street and Princes Street, Helensburgh

“As a licensed betting establishment, we welcome all potential ScotRail customers.” A spokesman for Helensburgh’s Ladbrokes shop told us.¬†“In fact, as far as we’re concerned, you don’t even need to be a passenger to bet on whether the trains leave Helensburgh Central on time. In many ways, it’s actually more fun if you’re not relying on them to get somewhere.”

At the time of publication, we’ve had no word on whether Bet Fred or William Hill will also get involved in allowing passengers to put a wager on the services operated by Dutch group, Abelio.