Government launches wide ranging gambling review

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‘The industry has evolved at breakneck speed.’

The government has launched a review to ensure that gambling laws are ‘fit for the digital age’, covering areas such as advertising and promotion, online stake limits and age restrictions.

The review’s findings will be used to inform any subsequent changes to the Gambling Act 2005, the government states, to ensure that ‘customer protection is at the heart of the regulations’. In the meantime, it has announced that the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised to 18 from October 2021.

The review will also consider areas such as interventions when customers show clear signs of problematic play and the powers and resources of the Gambling Commission. There have been increasingly frequent calls for an overhaul of gambling regulation in recent years, with chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier calling the commission a ‘torpid, toothless regulator’ regulator earlier this year (DDN, July/August, page 4). The government, however, states that it needs to balance the correct regulatory framework with ‘the enjoyment people get from gambling’. 

‘Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age,’ said culture secretary Oliver Dowden. ‘From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed. This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people.’

Meanwhile, new research from GambleAware has found that 20 per cent of BAME adults surveyed experienced ‘some problems associated with their gambling’ compared to 12 per cent of white adults, with 7 per cent classed as problem gamblers compared to just 2 per cent of white adults. Around 75 per cent of people from minority ethnic communities classed as problem gamblers also said they wanted treatment, support or advice, compared to less than 50 per cent of white problem gamblers.

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‘The prevalence of high levels of gambling harms among minority ethnic communities, coupled with the significant demand for access to treatment, support, and advice demonstrates the clear need to further strengthen and improve the existing provisions on offer,’ said GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches. ‘Services must be flexible, meet the varying needs of individuals and it is vital they are easy to access for all minority groups. This will require active engagement with communities on the ground to understand their lived experiences, and to design services in accordance with these.’

Gambling review call for evidence here

Gambling among adults from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities at about.gambleaware.org