Monday, 7 November 2011

Is gambling too prevalent in society?

In Britain the law around gambling is from Labour UK Government’s Gambling Act 2005. This Act was supposed to both liberalise gambling (including allowing advertising for the first time, and the establishment of new Las Vegas-style Mega Casinos) whilst at the same time introducing new protections for vulnerable players.

Has it worked? Well there is more gambling than before, but sadly there is also more problem gambling. So the industry has been liberalised but at the cost of addiction. We’ve not seen any new Mega Casinos opened, but despite this the explosion in online gambling has added its own misery.

It was revealing to read Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s remarks to the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee that he thinks the laws are ‘inconsistent’ and in ‘limbo’ which is ‘not healthy’.

Here are some of my suggestions for how to improve the situation:
  • Government should address problem gambling as a public health issue, not as part of business regulation.
  • There should be stronger restrictions on gambling advertising
  • The levels of stakes and prizes for gaming machines should be reduced
  • Children should be prevented from playing on low value fruit machines
  • Local authorities should have the power to limit the number of gambling premises in a particular area if there is local concern that there are too many
  • Government should regularly monitor the prevalence of gambling and problem gambling and if it appears that problems are increasing they must do more to stop it.

 The Church of Scotland works closely with a range of other Christian organisations on gambling policy. I will be asking them to write to Jeremy Hunt about how we can contribute for the benefit of everybody. Together we have produced a briefing on gambling issues, Against the odds…?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. Your comment will be moderated according to my Netiquette statement. The comments posted by readers of the blog are not necessarily the opinion of, or endorsed by The Church of Scotland.