Charity calls on Government to reject Committee’s Online Gambling Recommendation
After submitting evidence on the need for greater regulation of remote gambling to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee gambling review, CARE is thoroughly disappointed with the recommendations of today’s report The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking?
Despite hearing that problem gambling directly linked to remote gambling was on the rise, the Select Committee chose not to include online gambling in their self-exclusion proposal. Whilst CARE welcomes a national system where problem gamblers can opt to self-exclude themselves from terrestrial gambling venues, such as betting shops and bingo halls, it seems inconsistent not to extend this to include remote gambling.
CARE’s Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Dr Daniel Boucher, expressed his regret that the report’s recommendations on self-exclusion don’t go far enough: “Problem gamblers are just as, if not more likely, to access gambling online. Moreover, the sheer number of gambling websites which are easily accessible to UK citizens is such that it requires extreme determination to opt-out of each individual website, illustrating the urgent need for the self-exclusion proposal to cover this sector of the gambling industry too.”
A second serious failing of the report with respect to remote gambling is its attempt to effectively encourage the Government to water down its commitment of 14 July 2011 to require all gambling sites accessed in the UK, whether located in the UK or abroad, to be subject to UK Gambling Commission licensing. At the moment the many remote gambling firms operating out of EU member states and the so-called white listed jurisdictions are not subject to UK Gambling Commission licensing. However, today’s report recommends that Government should weaken its commitment to their regulation significantly and make good on its outstanding commitments in this regard by simply handing over the responsibility for regulating websites to the commissions of the countries in which the websites are based. This is hardly different from the current arrangement and very much less than what the Government has promised.
CARE’s consultant for remote gambling, Lauri Moyle, says: “If the Government implemented this commitment it would mean that vulnerable people in the UK would continue to be exposed to remote gambling websites which have not been properly vetted according to the standards which we expect the UK Gambling Commission to use when vetting British gambling firms. This is not good enough when we know that problem gambling is on the increase and there are around 450,000 people in the UK struggling with an addiction that can cripple a person’s life, even to the point of suicide. We would call on the Government to dismiss this ill-conceived suggestion and stick to their original commitment of July 14th 2011 that Gambling sites located outside the UK but used in the UK must apply for a UK Gambling Commission license.