Labour’s next manifesto must tackle the harm caused by gambling
(Tony Smith/Alamy Stock Photo)
It was a Labour government that introduced current gambling legislation in 2005, but few could have foreseen the damage that was to come.
Although the digital age of today needs far different regulations, following countless delays and excuses, it is expected that when the government finally publishes the Gambling Review White Paper, it will fall short on delivering the widespread change needed.
The gambling industry has had free reign for too long. In a world where technology allows 24/7 access to gambling, it is scandalous that there are no online stake limits and no processes in place to properly monitor affordability.
The harm being caused is clear for all to see, with an estimated 400 gambling-related suicides each year, yet despite this, the voluntary levy that gambling firms are currently subject to means they are even able to avoid financial responsibility for the damage they cause.
The gambling industry has had free reign for too long
Add to this the complete absence of any rules on gambling advertising and we have an industry able to prey on the vulnerable, profit from those who can least afford it and then avoid taking any sort of responsibility.
The next Labour manifesto must address this by committing to:
- Centralised background affordability checks for those spending over a specified amount on gambling transactions – not to preclude those who have the financial stability to gamble above the specified amount, but to identify those most at risk of harm.
- Online stake limits to give parity with land-based venues and a triennial review of these.
- A statutory levy to ensure those responsible for the highest levels of harm are held accountable for funding research, education and treatment.
- A curb on advertising right across the spectrum – sponsoring of television programmes and sports teams and celebrities championing gambling firms normalises and glamourises gambling, reaching children and vulnerable people.
Which, if any, of these vital reforms will appear in the long overdue white paper remains uncertain. What we do know is that reform is urgently needed. For too long, those in a position to implement change have been reluctant to act, and the gambling industry has been allowed to continue to put profit over people.
It is vital that Labour’s manifesto incorporates all changes that the current government fails to address. A Labour government must implement these reforms as a matter of urgency.
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