A parliamentary committee has warned that the British Government and the country’s gambling regulatory – the UK Gambling Commission – do not understand the harmful effects of gambling and how to minimise them.
According to a report issued by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the UKGC have failed to provide proper help to an estimated number of 395,000 gambling addicts in the country and a further 1.8 million individuals who are considered at risk of becoming problem gamblers. The report also found that the major gambling watchdog received £19 million in licence fees from gambling operators in 2019, a figure that represents less than 0.2% of the total gambling yield of £11.3 billion generated in the same year.
Furthermore, the report presented by the Public Accounts Committee, says that the DCMS has not been willing to accept the statement that increasing the budget of the UKGC to prevent gambling-related harm would be better than spending more money on problem gamblers’ treatment. The chair of the committee, Meg Hillier MP, explained that evidence showed that the Gambling Commission was not much interested in reducing gambling-related harm or perfecting the means that could be used to achieve that goal.
British Authorities Must Not Fail Problem Gamblers, Campaigners Say
The abovementioned committee has called for the authorities to provide more details about the gambling operators that fail to perform in line with the requirements of the Government and the UKGC. In addition, it has insisted that the DCMS must start its long-planned review of the country’s Gambling Act as soon as possible, setting out a schedule within three months of the report.
The trade body of the local gambling sector – the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) – has issued a separate statement, revealing that gambling companies in the country have been doing their best in order to raise standards. The BGC also reminded that the British gambling industry was already subject to strict regulation, so the sector must not drive its customers away, pushing them to illegal companies that operate on the black market. The trade body of the UK gambling sector also shared that its members wanted to see more action taken against the unregulated gambling industry.
One of the gambling charities that are focused on helping gambling addicts deal with their compulsive gambling behaviour, Gambling with Lives, welcomed the report’s findings, saying that the failure of regulatory bodies in the country could easily be seen in the fact that aggressive gambling advertising that makes online gambling products available to young people is still permitted in the country. The Committee that prepared the report has also blamed the regulator for working at a slower pace and also for not reducing levels of harm despite the negative effect, which online gambling has been having on local residents.