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PRESS RELEASE: Cross Party MPs call for £2 limit on online slot machine games to tackle gambling harm

Cross Party MPs call for £2 limit on online slot machine games to tackle gambling harm

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The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) has today (Monday 4 November) called for stake and deposits limits to be introduced on online gambling products, in its interim report into the online gambling sector. 

This report follows a six-month inquiry into the harms caused by online gambling. The inquiry was launched following growing disquiet among parliamentarians, charities, academics, families and individuals, at the high levels of harm caused by online gambling, in some cases tragically leading to suicide.  

The report raises concerns about the lack of action from the Government and the Gambling Commission to effectively address the harms caused by the online gambling sector. This inaction has allowed the industry to continue to prey on vulnerable gamblers. 

The report also highlights the disparity in content controls and stake and deposit limits between online and offline games. It notes that the Government has accepted the principle that harm can be reduced by reducing staking levels and it is clear that stake and deposit limits are needed in the online world to limit harm. The cross-party group  argue that there is no justification for having slot machine style games online with staking levels above £2, in line with land based venues. 

The report further notes that the Gambling Commission is looking at other aspects of regulation but has made no mention of what is clearly one of the key issues to address – stake and prizes online. As such, the Parliamentarians have raised concerns that that the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose.

The group calls on online gambling operators to sign its ‘Charter for Regulatory Reform’, to signal their intention and support for the policy proposals and recommendations, outlined in its report. 

The key recommendations of the report are:

  • That the Government should urgently introduce new gambling legislation with a focus on harm prevention;
  • That stake and prize limits be urgently introduced online. The report finds no justification for online slot machine style games with staking levels above £2, as it is offline;
  • That the Gambling Commission needs to urgently improve its standards in the area of online gambling;  
  • That that there is an urgent need to ban the use of credit cards to gamble online. It is inconceivable that gamblers are able to fund their addiction using  debt;
  • That improved affordability checks is urgently needed and that banks be given an increased role in relation to affordability checks; 
  • That VIP accounts and the inducements offered to gamblers should be restricted;
  • That online gambling operators significantly improve the measures they take to protect vulnerable and at-risk gamblers. Operators should also simplify their terms and conditions for easy comprehension;
  • That the sector needs to urgently adopt a more responsible approach to advertising to protect children and the vulnerable;
  • That a ‘duty of care’ be placed on gambling operators, and that they should commit to fund blocking software, offered without charge to gamblers who self-exclude from their website; 
  • That the treatment of gambling addiction and support for gambling related harm, be part of the NHS remit; 
  • That a ‘smart statutory levy’ of 1% be introduced to fund research and that the commissioning of research be transferred from GambleAware and the Gambling Commission to independent UK research councils and a public health setting.

The GRH APPG, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP, took evidence from, among others, academics, problem gamblers, banks, charities and online gambling operators. 

Due to the political context, the group is yet to meet with the new Gambling Minister or any representative from the Gambling Commission. This therefore is an interim report, and the group will publish its full report after its final hearings.

Commenting on the report, Chair, GRH APPG, Carolyn Harris MP said:

“This report highlights the urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of online gambling. Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector. It is not at all clear why the Gambling Commission is not looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator. There must be consistent and appropriate regulation of all forms of gambling. I also urge the Government to urgently review the provision of research, education and treatment in the sector. Gamble Aware are not effectively carrying out this function and it should immediately be brought into a public health setting.”

Commenting on the report, Vice-Chair, GRH APPG, Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith said: 

“Gambling addiction is becoming a public health crisis. It is clear from this inquiry that the powers of the Gambling Commission need to be significantly strengthened. For too long, online gambling operators have exploited vulnerable gamblers to little or no retribution from the regulator. We cannot continue to fail vulnerable gamblers. I therefore urge the Commission to look into this issue in greater depth. It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction.”

Commenting on the report, Vice-Chair, GRH APPG, Ronnie Cowan MP said: 

“It appears that the business model of some of these online gambling companies encourages and drives harmful gambling behaviour. These operators use various marketing and technological tools to extract as much money as possible from vulnerable gamblers, then use NDAs to cover up wrongdoings. This cannot continue to happen. The next Government and the Gambling Commission need to take radical actions to reduce gambling related harm.”

– End

Further information on the All Party Group can be found at www.grh-appg.com  

Notes to Editors

  1. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact of gambling related 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 and harms gambling causes to our communities.  
  • The newly formed Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) announced in March 2019 that it would be undertaking an inquiry into the harms caused by online gambling and looking at remedies and recommendations to address these. The inquiry examined the full impact of online gambling, the addictive and potentially harmful nature of some of the products on offer and their effect on the vulnerable, in particular, children. This inquiry will also explore the effectiveness of age and identity verification mechanisms as well as efficacy of self-exclusion schemes and current provisions for problem and at-risk gamblers. Amongst other areas, the Group looked at the use of credit cards online, difficulties in withdrawal of funds from online accounts, and the impact of the current level of stakes and prizes online.
  • The GRH APPG, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP, took evidence from, among others, academics, problem gamblers, banks, charities and online gambling operators. Due to the political context, the group is yet to meet with the new Gambling Minister or any representative from the Gambling Commission. This therefore is an interim report, and the group will publish its full report after its final hearings.
  • For more information, please contact Carolyn Harris MP, the Chair of the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group or the secretariat Katherine.morgan@interelgroup.com

Minutes from 4th September 2019 meeting of the GRH APPG

Please click here to download the minutes of the sixth evidence session of the Gambling Related Harm APPG’s Inquiry into Online Gambling – 4th September 2019. If you have any questions or require any further information, please contact the Group Secretariat.

Minutes from 10th July 2019 meeting of the GRH APPG

Please click here to download the minutes of the fifth evidence session of the Gambling Related Harm APPG’s Inquiry into Online Gambling – 10th July 2019. If you have any questions or require any further information, please contact the Group Secretariat.

Minutes from 12th June 2019 meeting of the GRH APPG

Please click here to download the minutes of the fourth evidence session of the Gambling Related Harm APPG’s Inquiry into Online Gambling – 12th June 2019.

If you have any questions or require any further information, please contact the Group Secretariat.

Minutes from 8th May 2019 meeting of the GRH APPG

Please click here to download the minutes of the third evidence session of the Gambling Related Harm APPG’s Inquiry into Online Gambling – 8th May 2019.

If you have any questions or require any further information, please contact the Group Secretariat.

Carolyn Harris MP calls out remote gambling operators on inaction to address online gambling harm.

PRESS RELEASE: 12 June 2019

On Wednesday (12 June), Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Carolyn Harris MP demanded online gambling operators address their failure to act on the harm caused by online gambling.

In an evidence of session of the group’s online gambling inquiry, the group heard from the representative organisation for the online gambling industry, the Remote Gambling Association.  

Ms Harris, along with Iain Duncan Smith MP and Ronnie Cowan MP, questioned the industry on its actions and steps to address the harm being caused to individuals and families as a result of problematic behaviour.

Carolyn Harris MP said “The industry has to start taking responsibility. This is about people’s lives.”

She also called on online gambling operators to appear publicly before the committee to answer questions on the harm they are causing. 

The group are calling on online operators to sign up to a strong code of conduct and immediately take steps to limit harm.

The group has extended invitations to online gambling operators to appear at an oral evidence session in September.  

Former Gambling Minister Tracey Crouch MP was today elected as Vice-Chair of the APPG.

  • End

Further information on the All Party Group can be found at www.grh-appg.com

Notes to Editors

  1. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact of gambling related 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 and harms gambling causes to our communities. 
  • The newly formed Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) announced that in March 2019 that it would be undertaking an inquiry into the harms caused by online gambling and looking at remedies and recommendations to address these. This inquiry will examine the full impact of online gambling, the addictive and potentially harmful nature of some of the products on offer and their effect on the vulnerable, in particular, children. This inquiry will also explore the effectiveness of age and identity verification mechanisms as well as efficacy of self-exclusion schemes and current provisions for problem and at-risk gamblers. Amongst other areas, the Group will also look at the use of credit cards online, difficulties in withdrawal of funds from online accounts, the impact of the current level of stakes and prizes online, and social media and the impact of advertising.
  • 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:  Tosin.Adedayo@interelgroup.com

PRESS RELEASE: Gambling Related Harm APPG launches new inquiry into online gambling

The Gambling Related Harm APPG has today (11 February) launched its new inquiry, assessing the harms caused by online gambling and looking at remedies and recommendations to address these.

The newly formed group are concerned about the emerging evidence and recent discussions around the potential risks of online gambling.

The inquiry will examine the full impact of online gambling, the addictive and potentially harmful nature of some of the products on offer and their effect on the vulnerable, in particular, children.  It will also explore the effectiveness of age and identity verification mechanisms as well as efficacy of self-exclusion schemes and current provisions for problem and at-risk gamblers.

The group is now asking for written evidence from the public, organisations, industry bodies and academics, on the terms of reference, by 14th March.

The group will also be holding a series of oral evidence sessions commencing in March. Further details of these sessions will be published shortly.

Carolyn Harris MP and Chair of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals All Party Parliamentary Group said:

“According to recent reports of British gambling behaviour, the prevalence of problem gambling among those who gamble online is similar to those who played FOBTs. Naturally, following our successful campaign to reduce the harm caused by FOBTs, online gambling became the next area of serious concern.

“Our group has received numerous correspondence from individuals and families harmed by online gambling and has already been informed about the ploy by bookmakers to lure would-be FOBT players online.

“We are deeply concerned about the harms caused by online gambling and particularly the impact and harm of online gambling on children.

“Following this inquiry, we will be setting out a number of policy changes and recommendations to tackle this issue.”

  • End

Further information on the All Party Group can be found at www.grh-appg.com

Notes to Editors

  1. The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group has been created to provide a forum for discussion and further investigation into the impact of gambling related 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 and harms gambling causes to our communities.
  2. The APPG is seeking written submissions that address the following issues:
  • What are the potential links between online gambling and harmful gambling?
  • Should there be restrictions on the amount individuals can spend on online gambling in a session?
  • What are the effects of the current fund deposit and withdrawal process on problem or at-risk gamblers?
  • Are the self-exclusion provisions currently available to problem and at-risk gamblers sufficient?
  • Should there be stronger measures to verify age and identity of online gambling customers?
  • What are the policy measures Government can put in place to better protect individuals from gambling harm online?
  • Should the Government review the current stake and prizes level online?
  • Does the regulator have sufficient powers to protect individuals from gambling harm online?
  • Are remote gaming and betting companies doing enough to protect at-risk or problem gamblers from harm?
  • What is the impact of social media and online advertising on the amount customers spend online gambling?
  • What are the effects of in-game spending, such as loot boxes, particularly on children, and does it need stronger monitoring or regulation?
  • Should the use of credit cards to gamble online be restricted?
  • Are new measures needed to better protect children from gambling harm?

The GRH APPG invites written evidence from the public, organisations, industry bodies and academics, on the terms of reference by 14th March 2019.

To submit written evidence, please contact the secretariat for the Group: Tosin Adedayo  E: tosin.adedayo@interelgroup.com

Each submission should be in Word format and include a contact name, organisation name, contact email address and telephone number.

The Group will announce its oral evidence sessions, shortly. If you would like to appear before the group, please contact the group secretariat by 27th February 2019 .

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:  Tosin.Adedayo@interelgroup.com

Statement from Carolyn Harris on the new £2 FOBT implementation date