UK Houses Parliament

Lords launch Peers for Gambling Reform Group

Last week, a group of peers in the House of Lords launched the Peers for Gambling Reform Group.

A group of peers within the House of Lords have launched the Peers for Gambling Reform Group which will campaign for reform of the UK gambling industry.

The group is one of the largest groups within the House of Lords across all sections and was formed ahead of the government and Gambling Commission’s planned reform of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The group will work with parliament and external stakeholders to promote the recommendations of the House of Lords Select Committee outlined in the Gambling Harm – Time for Action report and help implement regulatory changes.

The Peers for Gambling Reform Group

The Peers for Gambling Reform Group will be chaired by Lord Foster of Bath (Liberal Democrat). Vice-Chairs of the Group will include Lord Smith of Hindhead (Conservative), Baroness Armstrong (Labour), Lord Butler (Crossbench) and the Bishop of St Albans.

The group has argued that problem gambling should be treated as an equivalent to drug and alcohol addiction, something that the group believes is only just now being realised.

The group said its priorities will include the implementation of effective affordability checks, placing limits on the speed of play and stake limits for online gambling, as well as introducing enhanced testing for gambling-related harm across new products.

On top of this, the group will also work on introducing a mandatory ‘smart levy’ on the industry to fund the costs of research, education and treatment, a ban on direct marketing and all inducements and an end to sports sponsorship. 

The group will also look at introducing regulation for Loot Boxes, a reform of VIP schemes and implementing an NHS-led and commissioned treatment system to treat gambling addiction.

All of the group’s aims detailed above were cited in the House of Lords report that was published earlier this year.

The group’s chair Lord Foster said: “Given that we have a third of a million problem gamblers, including 55,000 children, and one gambling-related suicide every day, action is urgently needed. Online gambling companies have cashed in on the pandemic, making more profit and putting more lives at risk. This new group of 150 peers from across all sections of the Lords seeks to ensure urgent action is taken by the Government to reform our wholly outdated regulation. It is Time for Action.”

vice-chair Lord Smith said: “I enjoy the occasional flutter, like many millions of others, but I am only an advocate of responsible gambling and professional operators. The Lord’s Select Committee, on which I was privileged to serve, has highlighted some important issues which need to be addressed.”

The “Gambling Harm – Time for Action” report

The Lords report found that most gamblers can gamble safely. However, the report highlighted that the industry has had a significant negative impact on those that suffer from gambling-related harms, which is estimated to be between 250,000 and 460,000 people.

The report took over a year to complete and made 66 recommendations that could have far-reaching implications for the industry.

Upon publishing the report, Committee Chair Lord Grade of Yarmouth said: “Urgent action by the Government is required. Lax regulation of the gambling industry must be replaced by a more robust and focused regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits.

“Addiction is a health problem which should be treated by the NHS and paid for by gambling industry profits. The Government must impose a mandatory levy on the industry. The more harmful a gambling product is, the higher the levy the operator should pay.”

The BGC backs the group

The group’s review of the UK gambling sector also received support from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which welcomed the establishment of the new group.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “As the new standards body for the regulated sector, the BGC is committed to driving big changes in the regulated betting and gaming industry. 

“It is important to remember that the vast majority of the nearly 30 million UK adults who enjoy an occasional flutter every year, either on the Lottery, bingo, sports, casinos or gaming, do so perfectly safely. But one problem gambler is one too many and that is why – like the new peers’ group – we also support reform.

“It is also why we welcomed the House of Lords committee report into the social and economic impact of the gambling industry earlier this year.”

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