Gambling is good fun for many of us but I recognise that, for others, it can become a serious problem. With Genting Casino in Westcliff, I want to see a healthy gambling industry that makes an important economic contribution, but we must also protect those that use it from harm.
The first thing to make sure is that operators are licensed by the Gambling Commission and comply with the accompanying conditions. In 2019, the Gambling Commission introduced new rules to ensure operators verify customers’ age and identity details quickly and robustly. Furthermore, in 2020, the Government and Commission provided further protections, including a ban on credit card gambling, making participation in the self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP mandatory for online operators, and new guidance for operators to identify customers who may have been at heightened risk during the pandemic.
Public Health England’s review of gambling-related harms did not find evidence that exposure to advertising is a risk factor for harmful gambling. However, I am reassured that my ministerial colleagues are aware that gambling advertising can negatively affect some groups, such as those with gambling problems, and that some aspects of advertising can appeal to children. While rules are already in place to prevent advertising from causing harm to children and vulnerable people, the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has recently implemented strengthened protections for adults who are vulnerable to gambling harm. A further announcement on new rules aimed at reducing the appeal of gambling adverts to children is also expected shortly.
The fact is, the Gambling Act 2005 is an analogue law in a digital age. A review of the act was launched in 2020 and examines online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission. Plus, 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. Our aims will be set out in a White Paper in the coming months.