Today, Paul Merson, ex Arsenal and England player and Peter Shilton OBE, will be joined by over 250 people including cross-party Parliamentarians, leading sporting figures, and charities, in Westminster, to call for bold and significant reforms to tackle gambling harm. Gambling Minister Chris Philp MP will address the rally.
The Gambling Reform Rally, organised by the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group and Peers for Gambling Reform, will underline the devastating impact the online gambling industry is having.
In 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a review of gambling laws, amid mounting concern over addiction and children’s exposure to gambling advertising including through football sponsorship. A White Paper is due to be published shortly.
In an open letter, attendees are calling on the Government to take action to deal with gambling harm to ensure:
- People are not gambling more than they can afford and that there is an effective system of assessing affordability that is run independent from the industry
- Stake limits are set online as they are on land-based gambling machines, particularly for more harmful online slots
- People with gambling addiction and experiencing harm have treatment available to them that is overseen by the NHS. A statutory levy on the gambling industry should pay for this
- That the excessive gambling advertising all around us is curbed: on television, on the radio, online and at football matches.
New polling by YouGov found:
- nearly 80% (78%) support a complete ban on gambling advertising on all platforms before the 9pm watershed
- 79% support children not being exposed to advertising in any form and 67% think that sports clubs should not have sponsors on their kits or around football stadiums
- 72% support affordability checks to ensure people do not gamble more than they can afford
- 69% say that online slots games should have a maximum stake of £2 a spin
- 76% do not think the gambling industry should have a say in how the money collected for research, education and treatment is used
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair, GRH APPG said:
“Today’s rally and YouGov polling shows the strength of popular support for major reforms to our gambling laws. Too many families are devastated by online gambling and policy change is urgently needed.
The Government must not bow to pressure from Gambling Companies whose primary interest is to protect their profits. Their job is to act in the public interest. Our current legislation is analogue legislation in a digital age, online gambling is unregulated in many areas and mandatory deposit limits and affordability mechanisms are essential. Gamblers need an Ombudsman to support redress and a statutory levy must be put in place to support research, education, and treatment. The Regulator must also be overhauled. This is a once in a generation chance to improve much needed gambling regulation in this country and change cannot come soon enough.”
Lord Foster of Bath, Chair of Peers for Gambling Reform Group said
“There are around a third of a million people (including over 60,000 children) suffering from gambling harm which impacts the lives of more than 2 million other people. And tragically, there’s more than one gambling-related suicide every day.
Yet gambling companies make more than half of their profits from the 5% of their customers most seriously affected by their products. Meaningful reform of our outdated gambling regulations is urgently needed. Delay is putting lives at risk.”
Lord Grade, Chairman of the House of Lords Gambling Industry Select Committee said
“The suffering caused by gambling is very well documented. Tackling gambling harm must be a key objective of the Government’s review of gambling policy. We cannot afford to wait any longer for meaningful change and many reforms can happen without waiting for primary legislation – there is no need to delay and there is a moral duty to act now.”