A senior MP has stressed the need for an “urgent review” of gambling regulation as she highlighted its harmful effects.
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm, told the Commons that the Gambling Act 2005 must be updated to fit the digital age.
Last month, the APPG published a report with over 30 recommendations, following a year-long inquiry into the UK’s online betting industry.
Harris said: “Online gambling has grown exponentially, and all too often it is a toxic and dangerous environment. The 15-year-old analogue legislation is not for the 2020 digital era. I constantly hear stories of harm, devastation, demoralisation, destitution and, at its very worst, suicide as the consequences of a gambling addiction.”
“From having gambling firms logos on football shirts, to having no stake limits on online platforms” and to “16-year-olds being able to legally deposit hundreds of pounds on the national lottery every week”, the gambling industry she said, “has become the new tobacco industry”.
Stuart Andrew, Deputy Chief Whip, responded: “We have been working closely with the Gambling Commission over the past 18 months to introduce a wave of tougher measures, and we hope to be able to report on that soon.”
Earlier this month, a House of Lords report into the dangers of gambling estimated that around two million people are impacted.
‘Gambling Harm: Time for Action’ stated that around a third of a million adults are addicted to gambling, and an additional 55,000 children. These addicts are also negatively affecting others around them through crime, domestic violence, job losses and family breakdown.
The House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, led by former BBC Chairman Lord Grade, urged the Government to impose strict curbs on the industry.
The Christian Institute
The Christian Institute campaigned against the Gambling Act before it was passed in 2005, warning that “the most radical deregulation ever of Britain’s gambling industry” would “lead to a massive proliferation of gambling of all forms”.
It said: “The idea that gambling is ‘just a bit of harmless fun’ is a myth. Gambling is addictive and harmful, fuelling crime, poverty and family breakdown. It has serious consequences for the individual involved, the individual’s family and society at large.”