A former gambling addict says a Government review into gambling adverts is a step towards revealing the truth about betting.
Ian Bartlett, from Nottingham, wants to see gambling adverts removed from TV before the 9pm watershed, to limit children’s exposure to them.
He said that by ensuring adverts can only go out after 9pm then “the capacity to reach children is going to be a lot harder”.
Bartlett was introduced to gambling aged just nine, and placed his first bet at 16. By 49, he was more than £100,000 in debt.
He said his addiction started with “a pound here, a pound there”, but quickly escalated, and he was negatively impacted by it.
He said he had suicidal thoughts, regularly didn’t have money to feed himself, lost his freedom, and spent 18 years in and out of prison.
Bartlett now says he wants to reach out and explain to others about “the impact that gambling has” not only on themselves but on those around them.
He said: “It’s all one-sided – it’s all about the fun that you can have by gambling, but the reality is there’s another side to gambling which people don’t really realise.”
Bartlett is so concerned he has launched a petition urging the Government to ‘take action’ to protect children and the vulnerable. The petition will be sent to Tracey Crouch MP, the minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with responsibility for gambling.
The Government recently announced it would expand a review into Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to include gambling advertising.
In a letter to The Times, Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, said: “The evidence suggests that action to bring down the stakes on FOBTs should be brought forward immediately.”
She also said the machines were harmful, and that a move to lower stakes would be “strongly supported by the majority of parliamentarians in both Houses”.
In another letter, Professor Jim Orford of the University of Birmingham and Gambling Watch UK said that the Government has been complicit in the gambling industry’s attempt to legitimise itself.
The public have been fed a set of false assumptions, he says, including that “gambling is essentially harmless” and that it is “just like any other entertainment business”.