Gambling-bereaved mums deliver letter to the Prime Minister urging reform

Six mums who lost their children to gambling-related suicide have handed a letter in at Downing Street urging Rishi Sunak to end the gambling industry’s grip on gambling information, research, education, and treatment. They were joined by Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP.

The mothers, including Liz Ritchie who lost her son Jack, Kay Wadsworth who lost her daughter Kimberly, and Judith Bruney who lost her son Chris, handed in a letter (included at the bottom of the page) saying they were misled by the gambling-industry-controlled narrative, and the government should put a stop to it to save lives.

They say the current system of information, research, education, and treatment sees the gambling industry control what is said to children in schools, who delivers public health warnings about gambling, what research projects get funded, and who provides treatment for people suffering from gambling addiction.

The bereaved mothers were joined by Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP outside Downing Street.

This means the public is not told how dangerous gambling can be, with an estimated 400 deaths in England alone, more than one every day. When someone requires treatment for gambling addiction they are likely to find themselves led towards an industry-controlled system with a conflict of interest at its heart, and with no line of clinical governance back to the Department of Health.

“My son Chris, like so many others, was failed by the industry-controlled treatment system. If we had known more about the real dangers of gambling and the failings of the current system Chris would be alive today”

Judith Bruney, who lost her son Chris in 2017

The government is currently reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act with a white paper expected to be published in the coming weeks. Bereaved families are calling for it to include a statutory levy on gambling industry profits, administered by an independent levy board led by the Department of Health, to pay for independent information, research, treatment, and education.

The mothers are asking to meet with Sunak to discuss their concerns and how a statutory levy could be implemented.

Liz Ritchie who lost her son Jack to gambling after he was made addicted while still at school said:

“As parents, we thought we knew all the dangers to warn our children about – drinking, drugs, smoking, road safety, sexual predators – but we didn’t know how dangerous gambling was because the truth was deliberately hidden from us.

“If we had known the strong link between gambling and suicide, with more than one person taking their life every day in England, things may have been different.

“We need proper health messaging around gambling, research that is independent, and education and treatment systems that are free from conflicts of interest. The government has an opportunity to make that a reality and we hope they will take it.”

Watch this Sky News report for more.

The letter to the Prime Minister delivered by six bereaved mothers.