General Election has Prompted Parties to Tackle Gambling Issues
This week’s general election has ensured that the issue of problem gambling is recognised as being as a public health issue. Speaking at GambleAware’s annual conference, the CEO, Marc Etches said gambling had been “crystalised” as a result of the forthcoming vote.
He said that although the general election had caused politicians and regulators not to attend the conference, it had enabled much needed political support. Adding that it was being “crystalised” the notion that “gambling harms are best understood as matters of health and wellbeing”.
The issue of problem gambling has led to both the Conservative Party and Labour pledging to review the 2005 Gambling Act. They have both voiced concern that current legislation is not fit for purpose in the digital age. The Liberal Democrats have not called for a review of the current act but would look to introduce a compulsory levy on gambling companies. These funds would be used in funding research and providing education and treatment services.
Etches cited the manifestos of the three main parties contesting the election as evidence of a change of attitudes towards gambling-related hard. Saying;
The political response reflects public concern about the extent and the impact of gambling-related marketing, the impact of technology making gambling more accessible and the convergence of gambling and gaming.– Marc Etches, GambleAware CEO
The Labour Party have also pledged in their manifesto to curb gambling advertising in sports. They would establish gambling limits on players; they like the Liberal Democrats, would also impose a betting levy to tackle gambling harm. The tax would also fund a compensation fund from which consumers could claim.
The Conservatives have said they will publish a new UK-wide cross-government addiction strategy in 2020, including gambling. They will introduce a new, dedicated monitoring unit which they claim will be ‘at the heart of Government”.
The GambleAware conference, which had a theme of ‘keeping children and young people safe from gambling harms’ this year, featured keynote speeches from many experts in the field of child psychology.
The ‘what the evidence is telling us’ segment looked at influences, such as advertising and marketing, social media and gaming have on youngsters. Particular concern was voiced about the emergence of e-sports betting.
Etches revealed that Gambling Commission figures show that 350,000 (11%) of 11 to 16-year-olds spent their own money on gambling in the previous week. This figure is lower than alcohol (16%) but is higher than smoking tobacco cigarettes (6%) or illegal drugs (5%). He did, however, reveal that youngsters who do gamble are much more likely to engage in risky activities than those that didn’t gamble.
Of the 11% of youngsters who had gambled, 41% also took alcohol, 25% smoked cigarettes, and 21% took illegal drugs.