The House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry today warns that more needs to be done to prevent gambling-related harm.
The liberalisation of gambling by the Gambling Act 2005, the universal adoption of smart phones, and the exploitation of soft-touch regulation by gambling operators has created a perfect storm of addictive 24/7 gambling.
One recommendation is that video game loot boxes should be regulated under gambling laws.
Peers say loot boxes should be classified as “games of chance” – which would bring them under the Gambling Act 2005.
“If a product looks like gambling and feels like gambling, it should be regulated as gambling,” their report says.
Gambling operators should no longer be allowed to advertise on the shirts of sports teams or any other visible part of their kit. There should also be no gambling advertising in or near any sports grounds or sports venues.
The Committee expects the Government and the regulator to make changes now. Many of the report’s recommendations do not need legislation, and all of them are urgent if consumers are to be protected and lives saved.
The Chair of the Committee, Lord Grade of Yarmouth said:
“Most people who gamble, enjoy it safely. However, gambling related-harm has made the lives of two million people miserable. It leads to hundreds of people each year taking their own lives, leaving families and friends devastated.
“The behaviour of some gambling operators, where vulnerable people were targeted with inducements to continue gambling when the operators knew they could not afford to, shocked the Committee.
“Urgent action by the Government is required. Lax regulation of the gambling industry must be replaced by a more robust and focussed regime which prioritises the welfare of gamblers ahead of industry profits.
“Addiction is a health problem which should be treated by the NHS and paid for by gambling industry profits. The Government must impose a mandatory levy on the industry. The more harmful a gambling product is, the higher the levy the operator should pay.
“Only time will tell if the harm caused by gambling has been exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.
“Our report makes some 66 recommendations which we believe will begin to the address this huge problem.”