Dire consequences will follow, if the Government fails to tackle addiction in its promised reform of gambling legislation, a long-serving Peer has warned.
Writing in The Times, Lord Butler of Brockwell urged the Government to seize the opportunity afforded by its greatly delayed White Paper to address gambling harms and “make a positive change” to countless lives.
Lord Butler is vice-chair of Peers for Gambling Reform, a cross-party group of around 150 members, which is calling for stricter controls on the industry.
Time to act
The crossbench Peer said: “every day that reform is delayed, gambling addiction across the country fuels homelessness, unemployment, imprisonment, depression, alcohol dependency and, most seriously, suicide”.
Lord Butler, who served as Private Secretary to five Prime Ministers, argued that if the Government fails to act now “it will be letting the country down”.
As a consequence of further delay, he concluded: “More harm will occur, more children will be hooked on gambling and ultimately, more lives will be lost.”
Former circuit judge His Honour Graham Boal QC said the Government and gambling industry should heed Lord Butler’s concerns.
In a letter to the Times, he warned that in his legal career he had seen “the damage addiction causes, and witnessed the beginnings of the gambling addiction tsunami”.
The retired criminal barrister and Old Bailey judge added that as a “recovering alcoholic” and trustee of an addiction charity “trying to cope with this serious social malaise, I want to add my voice to the case so well put by Lord Butler”.
The Government has now delayed the publication of its White Paper reforming the Gambling Act 2005 until after the appointment of a new Conservative party leader.