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Bishop tells the Government: Gambling Advertising is out of control

13th Sep 2018 - Rachael Adams

The Lord Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, raised the issue of gambling advertising in the House of Lords yesterday, urging the Government to bring in tougher regulation for online gambling advertising and reconsider a mandatory levy on gambling companies to contribute to the cost of treating gambling addiction.

CARE polling from this year shows the public’s frustration with the gambling industry and how the majority of people across the UK are unhappy with the current arrangement in which the Government encourages the gambling industry to make voluntary contributions to help care for problem gamblers.

Some 66 per cent of men told the ComRes poll that the level of contribution should be increased and that it should be made compulsory. The total value of such contributions last year was just £8 million – 0.06 per cent of Gross Gambling Yield.

During the debate the Government also came under pressure to protect children from the prevalence of gambling adverts and a suggestion was put to the Government to follow Italy’s recent move to ban all gambling advertisements on TV, radio and online.

Gambling companies are already side-stepping the ban on advertising to children by sponsoring football teams and a recent investigation by the BBC found links to online gambling firms had been placed in the junior sections of the websites of 15 football clubs, often appearing under details on how children can join junior clubs or be a club mascot.

There are estimated to be 370,000 11-16-year olds who gamble on a weekly basis with 25,000 of them classed as problem gamblers.

The Bishop also referenced the Head of NHS England, Simon Steven’s comments from last week in his questions, who described gambling addiction as one of the “new threats" facing the NHS and said reports that foreign betting companies weren't "co-funding help" for addicts were "deeply concerning".

CARE’s Chief Executive Nola Leach said:

“It’s abundantly clear that the damaging effects of problem gambling have become visible across society, with the majority of people across Britain today recognising the harm it causes and a significant proportion knowing someone directly affected. This is a real issue of public concern.

“It is time we had a serious public debate about the troubling nature of the gambling industry’s relationship with football.”

Find out more:

Read the speeches made in the House of Lords here.

Read the Bishop’s article on Politics Home here.

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