MP Calls Government, Watchdog Problem Gambling Help Efforts ‘Toothless’

Watchdog Problem Gambling Help Efforts ‘Toothless’
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A parliamentary committee recently warned authorities about the growing negative effects of gambling, as well as some points on how to tackle it. Moreover, they said that the government and some watchdog’s response to the effects of problem gambling are essentially “toothless.”

The report came from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. It highlights several points which they deemed are failures of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as well as the Gambling Commission.

The report estimated that close to 400,000 problem gambler in the United Kingdom are not getting the help that they need. What is more startling is that the report claims that another 1.8 million are prone into becoming problem gamblers because of lack of help from the government and watchdogs.

Lack of resources to treat problem gamblers

The Gambling Commission is a non-department institution of the British government. In 2019, the commission collected £19 million in license fees from various gambling and sport betting operators in the country. That represents a mere 0.2% of all the gambling revenue in the same year which amounted to £11.3 billion.

MP Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said:

“What has emerged in evidence is a picture of a torpid, toothless regulator that doesn’t seem terribly interested in either the harms it exists to reduce or the means it might use to achieve that.”

In order to further its regulator command, the committee is asking for a published league table of all gambling operators in the country. They are also planning to publish the name of all poor performers in an effort to shame them.

The committee said that is now working into reviewing the Gambling Act in order to make proper amendments to make it applicable and suitable in today’s times. The committee is looking to start the review process within three months after the report is published.

Response from the gambling industry

In a statement, the gambling industry’s Betting and Gaming Council said that they are working with their members in order to raise their current standards. The council added that the industry is already heavily regulated and that further regulations will drive customers into black market, offshore, and illegal gambling operators.

On the other hand, the group Gambling with Lives said that the report reveals major failure in terms of regulations of gambling operators. The group adds that some gambling operators are not handling problem gambling issues properly, with some firms neglecting them altogether. Gambling with Lives is a group formed by friends and family of people who took their lives because of various gambling problems.

Other MPs have also shared their insights about the recent report. Majority of them said that there is not enough regulation that puts into account those gambling firms that do not provide proper help for problem gamblers. Moreover, some of these operators are even designing their platforms in order to attract those who are gullible.

MPs are now pushing into a review of the Gambling Act in order to make sure that it is applicable in the digital age.

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