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.”
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
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
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.firstname.lastname@example.org