The UK Government is not doing enough to address the harms caused by gambling in England and Wales, according to MPs.
In a new report published over the weekend, the Public Accounts Committee said the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has an ‘unacceptably weak understanding of the impact of gambling harms.’
Along with the Gambling Commission, it had also failed to ‘adequately protect consumers at a time of considerable change in the sector, as gambling increasingly moves online, and new games become popular’.
Major failing identified
The Gambling regulation: problem gambling and protecting vulnerable people also said the Gambling Commission, which regulates the gambling industry is failing to proactively influence gambling operators to improve protections for customers.
Other failings identified were:
- The Gambling Commission consistently lags behind moves in the gambling industry
- Has no key performance indicators
Overall, the committee concluded that the issue of gambling related harms should be higher up the Government’s agenda and a review of the existing gambling legislation is ‘long overdue’.
In its manifesto, the current Conservative Government said it would hold a review of the 2005 Gambling Act which could pave the way for reform.
Harms caused by gambling are devestating
There are estimated to be 395,000 people in the UK with a gambling addiction and a further 1.8 million are said to be at risk.
The effects of gambling related harms can be truly devastating and include relationship breakdown, criminality, suicide, and financial and home loss.
CARE campaigned for a reduction in the absurdly high maximum stake on fixed odds betting machines and has also called for a range of other measures, including a mandatory levy to ensure the gambling industry properly funds treatment and research into the harms caused by gambling addiction.
Commenting, CARE’s Head of Communications, James Mildred, said:
“This is a very serious report and highlights disturbing evidence that the UK Govt is not taking the issue of gambling related harms seriously enough.
“Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from gambling related harms in the UK and our current legislation is outdated and in desperate need of reform.
“The current UK Government is committed to holding a review of the 2005 Gambling Act and it must do so as soon as possible.”