The APPG on Gambling Related Harm strongly welcomes the proposals set out in today’s Gambling White Paper to reform outdated gambling laws.
Our gambling laws are analogue legislation in a digital age, facilitating an industry where:
- Losses from online gambling are “strongly skewed” towards the most deprived areas, with the 20% poorest regions supplying 25% of industry revenue (GambleAware, 2022)
- High annual stakes are concentrated in a minority of accounts. The 10% of accounts with the highest annual stakes delivered 79% of gross gambling yield.
Many of the reforms set out today were first proposed by the APPG in our interim report in 2019 and we have consistently called for their introduction since then. We are pleased that the government has finally been able to adopt many of our proposals.
While this process has taken far too long, the measures set out today are a turning point in the regulation of the online gambling industry in this country which will protect gamblers, young people and children for years to come.
Since 2005, this industry has grown exponentially and without effective and appropriate regulation. Today changes that, with a clear acknowledgement that this industry should face much tougher regulation and that greater protections are needed.
Taken together, today’s proposals to implement affordability checks and stake limits, which must be set at levels which are equivalent to those in the land-based sector and ensure harm prevention, are important steps towards ensuring that people are not gambling more than they can afford.
The introduction of a mandatory levy, which was strongly resisted by the gambling industry, to pay for research, education and treatment is a seismic moment, for the first time enabling transparent and independent funding for those that need it. We will be working closely with the government and regulator to ensure that this system is set up as swiftly as possible and that the levy is independently overseen.
For too long, consumers have not had an effective system to seek redress against the global gambling industry. We look forward to working with the government to put more effective systems in place to support consumers.
While we are delighted with the reforms set out today, there are also clear omissions. Crucially, much more must be done on advertising to protect children. The Premier League’s decision to remove front of shirt advertising on match days was welcome but we are bombarded by gambling advertising in sport, in the media and online. We will be pushing for much stronger action from the government in this area.
We also call on the government to swiftly implement the proposals which will protect gamblers and ultimately save lives. This process has already taken far too long. Consulting on the detail of reform must be a rapid process and change must be implemented. Further delays are simply unacceptable and merely benefit the gambling industry.
This is also an industry which is constantly evolving and so we also call on the government to ensure that so too does the regulation which surrounds it. Reform must be constant, not a once in a generation moment. It must be based on the evidence and free of industry influence.
We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank those who we have worked alongside us to champion reform in Parliament, the NHS, academia, campaigners, sportsmen and women and, of course, those with lived experience, who know only too well the utter devastation that gambling can cause.
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair:
“Regulation of the online gambling industry has been long overdue. I am delighted that the government has finally adopted the recommendations that we put forward to reform our vastly outdated gambling laws. I’m incredibly proud of the work the Gambling Related Harm APPG has done, which will go a long way towards helping those that have been impacted by gambling harms. The government and regulator now need to get on and implement the reforms that have been set out today to prevent further harm and devastation being caused by this unfettered industry”
Iain Duncan Smith MP, Vice Chair:
“I am delighted to see today a key Conservative manifesto promise to reform our outdated gambling legislation finally come to fruition and end the worst abuses of the gambling industry. The introduction of a much-needed statutory levy on the industry will finally end the unworkable and ineffective voluntary system and ensure that adequate funding will go towards research, education and importantly, treatment for those who have been impacted by gambling related harm. Affordability checks and stake limits will prevent people from spending more than they can afford and I look forward to our systems of redress being overhauled. But there is more to do, and we will make sure we hold the government’s feet to the fire to ensure these measures are implemented swiftly and that the reform does not stop here.”
Ronnie Cowan MP, Vice Chair:
“The Government has finally listened and agreed to bring forward our suggested reforms to our gambling legislation after years of campaigning. Affordability measures and stake limits are essential to protecting people. I am concerned that after years of delay the U.K. government is still talking about putting some matters out for consultation. They should have been engaged in this discussion, especially with those with lived experience, for years. We have urgently needed a proper levy on the industry and will be making sure this is fit for purpose. We will, of course, be looking intensely at the detail and will continue to work with the Government to ensure that these reforms are not watered down and are implemented as soon as possible, but this White Paper is a positive step forwards that has the potential to save lives.”