Actor and Monty Python alum John Cleese (pictured) has taken to Twitter to refute criticisms that he’s encouraging gambling via Spamalot-themed gambling machines in UK betting shops. Cleese recently endured a barrage of online criticism from anti-gambling types outraged that the smash hit musical based on the beloved film Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be linked to gambling, especially the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) in betting shops that anti-gambling campaigners fear more than the Ebola virus.
After suffering in silence long enough, Saturday saw Cleese tweet the following:
“Dear Twits, Please understand that Python has no control over Spamalot activities. They pay us royalties for using the Grail script. That’s it. Python exercises no control over Spamalot decisions or actions. We are not even consulted … I would not have endorsed the decision to use Spamalot to promote gambling if I had been asked.”
Cleese appears to have had a change of heart re gambling, as he acted as a spokesman for William Hill’s Austrian-facing site back in 2010. Space Enterprises, which licenses the Spamalot property, has declined to comment on the tempest in a pepperpot, nor have any of the other Pythons weighed in. The Guardian saw fit to single out Ladbrokes for contributing to the spread of the Spamalot scourge via its deal with gambling software providers Playtech, which rolled out the Spamalot-themed slot way back in 2012. That same year, an online version of the Spamalot slot resulted in a nearly £700k jackpot for some lucky player, but the anti-gambling types have yet to seek his opinion of the branded slot.
The fact that the online ‘Spamaslot’ has yet to attract similar venom from anti-gambling types shows the general hysteria that accompanies the FOBT issue. Last month, the Sunday People blamed FOBTs for last year’s 8.2% rise in the number of times police were summoned to UK betting shops. While many of these extra calls involved robbery attempts, groups like the Campaign for Fairer Gambling can’t seem to distinguish between association and causation, so FOBTs get the blame. Next they’ll be claiming an FOBT bit the heads off some guys on whom the Queen has seen fit to bestow knighthood…