This briefing is a response to the Government’s deregulation of Britain’s gambling industry. The Gambling Bill 2005 is unprecedented in both its scope and aim of encouraging and facilitating gambling. Yet the evidence overwhelmingly shows the Bill will lead to a massive increase in problem gambling.
Online betting rose significantly during the pandemic, the Gambling Commission has confirmed.
Figures from the industry watchdog show a 12 per cent rise in the number of adults gambling on the web between 2019 and 2020.
Half of those who gambled online during the past year did so using a mobile device, such as a smart phone.
The Commission, which monitored the impact of restrictions on gambling habits during lockdown, found approximately “12.1 million adults gambled online in 2020 – up 1.3 million since 2019”.
In its annual report, it said that greater vigilance was required by betting companies as many people were “likely to be feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result of the length of the pandemic period”.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, Director of the Clean Up Gambling campaign, said: “Online gambling exploded in lockdown, with firms posting record profits. At least 60 per cent of which come from those experiencing gambling problems, and online slots driving the majority of the revenue.”
He added: “Consumer protections, such as limits to stakes on slots like we have on fixed-odds betting terminals, are badly needed in the gambling review.”
A separate report from academics at the University of Bristol found that, despite the growth in online betting, “‘land-based’ gambling remains a key part of the industry”.
Of the 10,000 gambling premises in Britain, researchers discovered that 21 per cent of these were in the most deprived areas of the country, with only 2 per cent in the least deprived areas.
Co-author of the report Jamie Evans told the BBC: “While gambling premises may provide jobs, we know that gambling can lead to a wide variety of financial, social and health problems, with problem gambling affecting not just the gambler themselves but many of those closest to them as well.”
He concluded: “These are problems which simply add to the many challenges that our most deprived communities already face.”
When the Gambling Act 2005 was being considered by Parliament, The Christian Institute published ‘Gambling with our future’, which warned that the proposed liberalisation of gambling laws would lead to an increase in problem gambling.
Read our 2005 publication below: