Gambling with Lives: “Licensed operators offer totally inadequate consumer protection”

By Iqbal Johal

Gambling with Lives, a charity aiming to raise awareness of problem gambling, has called on the UK Government to raise standards in the gambling industry after suggesting licensed operators offer “totally inadequate consumer protection.”

In a letter sent by the charity to UK secretary of state for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) MP Oliver Dowden, the charity said it welcomed the Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act but said fears about the black market threat were "scaremongering."

Last month, it was announced the DCMS were leading a government review of gambling regulation in the UK, including considering changes to the Gambling Act, gambling adverts, sponsorship in sport and limits on online stakes, to “re-balance” the odds between gamblers and the industry.

While standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) welcomed the move, CEO Michael Dugher said the Government “must ensure any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online.”

In the letter of 30 signatories including Gambling with Lives senior programme manager and The Big Step founder James Grimes, the charity said it was dismayed by these comments, suggesting that licensed operators needed more regulation.

It drew to the fact the signatories collectively lost £11.9m ($16.3m) with 507 regulated gambling site accounts, compared to £113,000 on the black market, as a result of gambling addiction over the years.

The letter, titled ‘We Are The Evidence Too’, went on to say: “If the Government wants to prevent harm, it should be finding ways to raise standards – not excuses to facilitate a race to the bottom.

“The threat of the ‘black market’ has been overstated by the gambling industry, which should not be allowed to use this as an excuse to hold down standards in Britain.

"Because those standards are far too low and the resulting harm far too high from a sector that derives the majority of its profits from people who get addicted.”

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