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Minutes from the 11th May 2020 Meeting of the APPG

Please click here to download the minutes from the 11th May 2020 meeting of the APPG.

PRESS RELEASE: Politicians Combine to Tackle Problem Gambling

23 June 2020

Politicians at Stormont and Westminster are joining forces to toughen up gambling laws on both sides of the Irish sea.

The recently-formed All Party Group on Reducing Harm Related to Gambling at Stormont is about to launch an inquiry into how best to reform Northern Ireland’s obsolete gambling legislation.

Meanwhile the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group at Westminster has just completed its own inquiry into online gambling and is demanding tough new laws, including a total ban on gambling advertising in GB and stake limits for online gambling.

The Stormont APG Chair, Robbie Butler MLA, said: “From our perspective the timing could not be better. We’ve been in touch to exchange notes and we’ll be asking the Westminster chair Carolyn Harris MP to give evidence to our inquiry when it begins in the autumn.”

The Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm published a hard-hitting report last week after a year-long inquiry. It calls for a complete overhaul of gambling law and its 30 recommendations include:

  • Stake limits for online slot content of no higher than £2 given the potential to cause harm
  • A ban on all VIP schemes and inducements
  • A ban on all gambling advertising
  • A complete overhaul of gambling regulation in the UK. It states the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose.

Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the GRH APPG, said: “This multi-million pound industry has destroyed people’s lives. They have shown time and again that they will not effectively self-regulate. The Westminster APPG has set out over 30 recommendations to reform our online gambling industry and these changes cannot come soon enough. We are looking forward to sharing our experience of calling for gambling reform with Stormont colleagues and working together where we can in the coming weeks and months to make gambling safer, fairer and better regulated in both GB and NI.”

Philip McGuigan MLA, Vice Chair of the Stormont APG said: “I’ve studied the Westminster report carefully and there is much in it that will help our members in our deliberations. Gambling harm is a major issue on this island and in Britain. It is important, therefore, that as we try to address that issue and modernise our legislation here in the North so that it is fit for purpose that we learn and share best practice with others.”

The Stormont inquiry is expected to start taking evidence in September.

Robbie Butler concluded: “This is not about banning gambling; it is about protecting the vulnerable and making our laws fit for purpose. Our members are from across the political divide and there is a very strong sense of common purpose between us. Working with our peers at Westminster will bring obvious benefits to the inquiry.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact Will Chambré, Reducing Harm Related to Gambling APG Secretariat, on 07736 230585.

Minutes from the 9th April Meeting of the APPG

Please click here to download the minutes from the 9th April 2020 meeting of the APPG.

Sunday Times 26th April 2020: APPG’s Letter to the Editor

GAMBLING ADDICTS ARE EASY PREY

There is clear evidence that online gambling companies are offering inducements to vulnerable gamblers and recovering addicts who are isolated at home (News, last week). They must stop this predatory behaviour.

It is time for this industry to act with integrity and adopt measures we have proposed to protect vulnerable gamblers: deposit and stake limits for the duration of the crisis, the closing of addictive “VIP” accounts, the cessation of gambling advertising and the provision of data on the scale of activity. The Gambling Commission also has a duty to ensure that the vulnerable are protected.

The actions of the industry at this time show that, now more than ever, reforming our outdated gambling legislation must be a priority.

Carolyn Harris MP

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP

Ronnie Cowan MP

Sammy Wilson MP,

Lord Foster of Bath

Bishop Alan of St Albans

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Director, National Problem Gambling Clinic

Stephen Timms MP

Tracey Crouch MP

Stuart McDonald MP

Jim Shannon MP

Lord Clement-Jones

Gerald Jones MP

Richard Holden MP

David Linden MP

Jessica Morden MP

Steve Baker MP

Alison Thewliss MP

Judith Cummins MP

Sir Desmond Swayne MP

Patricia Gibson MP

Lord Beecham

Baroness Eaton

Jeff Smith MP

Mike Penning MP

Ruth Cadbury MP

Tim Loughton MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Richard Bacon MP

Rachel Hopkins MP

Neil Parish MP

Ian Byrne MP

Robin Millar MP

Apsana Begum MP

Peter Gibson MP

Paula Barker MP

APPG Writes to Minister and Gambling Companies about Covid-19 and Gambling Related Harm

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm and Prof. Henrietta Bowden Jones OBE, Director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, have today written to the Betting and Gaming Council, five large online bookmakers (Bet365, William Hill, GVC, SkyBet and Flutter) and to the Sport, Tourism and Heritage Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP.

The letters call for the online gambling industry to adopt five urgently needed measures, in addition to taking further steps to protect vulnerable gamblers during the Covid–19 pandemic.

They note that “at this time, it is incumbent on us all to do everything we can to support people’s safety and well-being, to support our society, protect the vulnerable and to put public interest ahead of gambling companies profit.”

Letters:

Letter sent to Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage.

Letter sent to the the Betting and Gaming Council and the CEOs of GVC, Bet365, SkyBet, William Hill, and Flutter.

Minutes from the 12th February 2020 Session with Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission CEO

Please click here to download the minutes of the 12th February 2020 session in which the APPG heard from the CEO of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur.

PRESS RELEASE: Statement from the APPG for Gambling Related Harm on the National Audit Office Report

Today the National Audit Office has effectively said that the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose.

This is a major intervention by the Government’s own auditor and organisation which holds the Government to account.

Individuals at the Gambling Commission should be held accountable for this failing and urgent action must be taken by the Commission to raise standards across the industry, particularly online.

The NAO note that even if the Commission makes improvements ‘it is unlikely to be fully effective in regulating a challenging and fast-changing industry within the current system’. This is unacceptable.

We cannot wait years for new Gambling legislation to be introduced. The Government must immediately bring forward legislation to ensure the ever-growing gambling market it being properly regulated, consumers are protected and an Ombudsman is established. A failure to do this would be an abdication of the Government’s responsibility.

Minutes from 21st January 2020 AGM of the GRH APPG

Please click here to download the minutes of the 21st January 2020 AGM of the APPG for Gambling Related Harm.

Please click here to download the income/expenditure statement agreed at the AGM covering the period 27th June 2019 – 5th November 2019 (the dissolution of Parliament before the 12th December 2019 election).

PRESS RELEASE: Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group questions Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission

The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group questioned Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission on 12th February on its role as a regulator and its duty in protecting the most vulnerable from gambling related harm.

Chair of the APPG, Carolyn Harris, along with Vice Chairs Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Ronnie Cowan and Lord Don Foster pressed the Gambling Commission’s Chief Executive on a range of issues including asking if the Gambling Commission was fit for purpose and about the ineffectualness of fines on the behaviour of online gambling companies.

After pressing Mr McArthur on a review of online stakes, he confirmed for the first time that the Gambling Commission would be reviewing online stakes within six months. The APPG has previously called for stake limits for online gambling including a £2 stake limit for slot content, which has been shown to be highly addictive. The APPG recommended in its November report a ban on the use of credit cards in gambling. The APPG is pleased that this has now been taken forward, and is hopeful the Group’s further recommendations are now adopted as policy without further delay.

The Gambling Commission also said that if action wasn’t taken by companies to reduce the harm caused by lucrative VIP accounts then the Commission would need to ban them. The Commission agreed also that something needed to be done about the volume of gambling advertising.

Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All Party Gambling Related Harm APPG said:

“A review of stake limits online has been clearly recommended by the All Party Parliamentary Group and is long overdue. I am very pleased that the Gambling Commission has finally seen sense on this.  Online slot content games should be reduced to £2 a spin in line with the rules in betting shops. The Gambling Commission must stop being reactive and take action to protect the vulnerable from harm in line with their licensing objectives.”

Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group Sets Out its Work Programme for the Year

The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) met this week to re-elect its officers and set out their work programme for the year. The Group, which has been highly effective, agreed to continue to vigorously campaign to reduce gambling related harm during this Parliament and to ensure that the new Gambling Act delivered better regulation.

Carolyn Harris MP was re-elected as Chair of the Group. The Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Ronnie Cowan MP, Lord Foster and Sammy Wilson MP were also elected as Vice-Chairs of the Group, demonstrating the cross-party support for the group.

The APPG welcomed the Government’s decision this month to ban gambling with credit cards. This was a recommendation made by the APPG in its interim report on online gambling, published in November 2019. The Group agreed that it would now be campaigning to ensure that the remaining recommendations set out in its report were also actively taken forward including restrictions on the staking levels online, on gambling advertising and the statutory ‘smart’ levy to fund research, education and treatment.

In completing its current inquiry into online gambling, the APPG will call upon the Gambling Commission and the Gambling Minister to appear before the Group to contribute to the APPG’s final report, which will be published in the coming months.

This year, the group will also be undertaking evidence sessions to provide recommendations to the Gambling Review which is due to be undertaken by Government ahead of the new Gambling Act.

Evidence sessions will look at all aspects of harm in the industry including at areas such as the age level for purchasing scratch-cards, the normalisation of gambling, gambling advertising and the ‘gamblification’ of sport.

Carolyn Harris MP said:

“I am delighted to have been re-elected Chair of the GRH APPG. Gambling related harm is an issue that is very close to my heart and one I am extremely passionate about. The APPG is not anti-gambling, we support a safe and sustainable industry. Our primary concern is to continue to champion the cause for better regulation and we are determined that all parts of the industry should operate openly, fairly and in a way that does not prey on vulnerable people”.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Gambling Related Harm (GRH) All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact gambling harm, in our communities. This group, powered by the passion of the members in both houses of Parliament on this issue, allows a coordinated effort among politicians of all political parties, to come together to discuss how best to address the issues that gambling harm is causing in our communities.
  2. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group undertook an inquiry into the harm caused by online gambling in 2019. The Group’s interim report on online gambling was published on 4 November 2019 and can be accessed here http://www.grh-appg.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Interim-APPG-Report-November-final-1.pdf
  3. For more information, please contact Carolyn Harris MP, the Chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group or the Secretariat for the Group: Holly Ramsey Holly.Ramsey@interelgroup.com T: 020 7592 3832
  4. The newly elected members of the Group are:

• Carolyn Harris MP – Chair
• Ronnie Cowan MP – Vice Chair
• Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP – Vice Chair
• Lord Foster of Bath – Vice Chair
• Sir Mark Hendrick MP – Vice Chair
• Stuart McDonald MP – Vice Chair
• Sammy Wilson MP – Vice Chair
• Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning – Vice Chair
• Stephen Timms MP – Treasurer
• Gerald Jones MP – Secretary