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Peer calls for gambling law reform

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Peer calls for gambling law reform 25th July 2018

Lord Chadlington said it’s time to act decisively to end children’s exposure to gambling advertising or we risk a future gambling epidemic.

Writing in the House Magazine, he said: “We don’t know how many children and teenagers, being groomed to gamble online, will add to these tragic statistics in the next ten years or so. Go online and look at ‘Robin of Sherwood Slots’, ‘Jumanji Video Slot’ and ‘White King Slot’ casino games. Look at games like ‘Fortnite’ which provide opportunities to bet, encouraging the belief in the young that gambling enhances gameplay.”

There are some 500,000 problem gamblers in the UK and a further two million people are in danger. Some experts estimate that two suicides every working day can be attributed, at least in part, to problem gambling. Many are high potential young people under 25.

He said that: “This marketing drive ‘normalises’ gambling, making people believe that they cannot enjoy sport for itself but only if they have the added thrill of risking money.”

The UK gambling industry spent £312m last year to persuade us all to gamble – an increase of 63% over five years, with TV advertising up by 43% and online advertising 87%. Tellingly, 2018 international World Cup football fixtures are exempt from gambling advertising on pitch hoardings, whereas BBC research shows that 95% of all televised UK football matches in 2017 had gambling advertisements in commercial breaks.

He called on the Government to:

- Undertake more independent and objective research into gambling – particularly the suicide risks and impact on children. Good and effective law is based on robust information.

- Support the DCMS’s plans to educate young people about gambling-related harm, but when the government realises something is addictive and harmful to the young – like fixed-odds betting terminals – then we must implement that brave decision immediately and not wait until 2020! We must lead by example.

- Consider a ban on all gambling advertising during live sporting events and an hour before and after the screening. Further independent research is again needed to evaluate whether a blanket ban is required.

- Introduce a nationwide programme backed by the DCMS and the DHSC to help those already addicted, those at risk of gambling-related harm and supporting affected families.

He said funding for this should come from the industry, saying: “Currently there is a 0.1% voluntary gambling industry levy which this year will generate less than £10m. This levy must be made mandatory and increased to 1%, generating some £130m every year to be directed to a new independent commission which would execute and monitor the above strategy.”

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