White paper reforms must go further, without more delays
We welcome some of the proposals for gambling reform published in today’s white paper but it needs to go much further to reduce gambling suicides without more lengthy delays.
Reforms proposed today include a statutory levy on gambling industry profits to pay for independent education, treatment and research, proposed action on online gambling products such as reducing stake sizes to £2 – £15 on online slots, and consultation on affordability checks.
The review of the 2005 Gambling Act was expected to lead to a raft of reforms that would reduce gambling-related harm. The final stage of the process was led by Minister Stuart Andrew with Lucy Frazer MP as DCMS Secretary of State.
Campaigners, including Gambling with Lives which supports families bereaved by gambling-related suicide, had called for an end to all gambling advertising, affordability checks at £100 monthly losses, and an end to free bets and other inducements, which were not included in this white paper.
The process of developing the new policies has been delayed multiple times, and has been mired in controversy caused by gambling industry lobbying of MPs.
Currently up to 1.4 million people are addicted to gambling in the UK and up to 500 people take their lives each year because of gambling in England alone.
Liz Ritchie MBE, co-founder of Gambling with Lives, says:
“After a long fight we’ve won concessions on some of the key areas but so much more needs to happen to reduce the horrendous harm caused by one of the most loosely regulated gambling industries in the world.
“We’ve won the argument against a powerful gambling lobby but this is just the beginning. There’s another family devastated by gambling suicide every day, and we won’t stop until the deaths do.”
Charles Ritchie MBE, co-founder of Gambling with Lives, says:
“When we first began our campaign four years ago people looked at us blankly, seemingly having no idea how highly addictive and dangerous some forms of gambling could be, how ruthlessly the gambling industry could behave and the number of people dying in gambling suicides every year, so this white paper feels like a first step in a better direction.
“We now need to push further for an end to all gambling advertising, we need preventative affordability checks when losses reach £100 a month, and we need to do more to make the most dangerous products safer, further reducing stake sizes and play speeds.
“Only then will we be able to see a real reduction in the deaths caused by gambling.”
Will Prochaska, Strategy Director at Gambling with Lives says:
“We welcome the government finally acting, but nothing has changed yet. We desperately need the Gambling Commission to enact these reforms and not drag their feet.
“Government must now go much further, remove the influence of the gambling industry, and give a greater role to the Department of Health in regulation.”
Gambling with Lives
Gambling with Lives is a charity set up by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide that supports bereaved families, raises awareness of the devastating effects of gambling disorder, and campaigns for change.
Nick Harvey firstname.lastname@example.org 07565944042