Two months after the Great Britain Gambling Commission (GBGC) announced the launch of the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, an independent commission has been set to deliver evidence examining the impact of problem gambling on crime. The new Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling will run for three years under former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC.
The inquiry into the links between problem gambling and crime comes at a time when the gambling industry is facing increased scrutiny and regulation in the country with the FOBT ruling earlier this year and the Gambling Commission’s investigation into the online casino sector, which resulted in the issuing of over £18 million in penalty packages to online operators since November 2018.
On Thursday, the new Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling held its first meeting and announced its intention to determine the relationship between problem gambling and crime, and its wider effects on communities and the society in general. The Commission was set up by the prison reform charity the Howard League for Penal Reform, while the funding is provided by the Gambling Commission and the regulatory settlements it has collected over time.
The new, independent Commission led by former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC, brings together a total of 15 commissioners, including professionals and academics with expertise in public health and the criminal justice system. Furthermore, there are gambling industry experts and individuals who have experienced addiction.
Some of the commissioners are Dr Jamie Bennett, Governor of the high security prison Long Lartin, Frances Crook OBE, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Betfair co-founder Andrew Black, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, founder and Director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, and Jon Collins, Chief Executive of the Magistrates Association.
This is the first authority to focus specifically on the link between problem gambling and crime, Lord Goldsmith pointed out. The Commission will not only investigate the impact of gambling addiction but it will further look into its connection to criminal behaviour and the societal harms. It will also seek to establish measures for reducing crime and increasing safety in the communities.
Recommendations for the Government and the Gambling Industry
The Great Britain Gambling Commission is supporting the establishment of an independent commission by the Howard League for Penal Reform, Tim Miller, GBGC Executive Director said. According to him, the inquiry will improve the understanding of the link between problem gambling and crime in the UK, a crucial piece of knowledge for delivering the GBGC’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
The investigation, which will run for three years, will gather evidence through written submissions by academics, practitioners and policymakers within the gambling industry, the legal and the healthcare system. The Commission will also organize seminars and consultations, encourage public debate and media coverage, and look for international examples of the links between crime and problem gambling.
It will then seek to make recommendations for the Government, the gambling industry and within the criminal justice system. The Commission welcomes submissions by individuals who have personal experience with problem gambling, as well as by experts in various fields. Written evidence should be received by Monday 30 September 2019.