Thank you for contacting me about gambling.
I set out my views on regulation of the gambling industry in the speech I made during a debate in Westminster Hall about gambling-related harm on 29th March this year. You can access it on my website here and the Hansard record of the full debate is here.
In summary, I think it is vital that we achieve the right balance between the need to guard against the danger of harms arising from gambling that some people undoubtedly face and people’s freedom to make responsible and informed choices about how they spend their own money on leisure and entertainment in their own time and the concerns of the workers and those who make their living in a sizeable industry and related sectors. The industry is not doing nothing and neither is the Government.
A review of the 2005 Gambling Act was launched in 2020 and examines online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission. Furthermore, protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed are also being explored. I understand that the Government aims to set out its findings in a White Paper in due course.
It is also vital that we do not end up making the problem of wholly unregulated black market gambling much worse. In the debate I gave the example of Norway to illustrate what happens when we abandon a balanced, competitive, regulated market. The Norwegians ‘introduced restrictions on stakes, strict affordability checks, and curbs on advertising. Instead of protecting the most vulnerable, it drove them to the black market, where 66% of all gambling in Norway now takes place. There is no human interaction on that market, no checks on affordability, and no lifelines available, either. So Norway’s 1.4% problem gambling figure is much higher because it does not know where the problem gamblers are.’ It is not just Norway; other countries facing this problem include ‘…France, where online gambling is illegal and 57% of all gambling is done on the black market. In Bulgaria, it is 47%. In Italy, 23% of all money staked now goes to the black market.’
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP