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MP calls for balanced Government approach to gambling reform

The best way for the UK Government to uphold freedom and protect the most vulnerable when it comes to gambling is ‘targeted intervention,” according to Mark Jenkinson, Member of Parliament (MP) for Workington.

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Referencing the figure from the Gambling Commission that problem gambling rates among UK adults are low by international standards at 0.3%, the MP has called for the Government to be balanced in how it regulates the legal market.

Speaking of the figure, Jenkinson said: “While this is encouraging, everyone recognises that betting is enjoyed by the overwhelming majority safely and responsibly, but that it can be a problem for a tiny minority. That’s why we have sensible regulations in place, just as we do with the consumption of alcohol.

“But how do you allow adults the freedom to bet, while protecting the vulnerable? One such measure being pushed by the anti-gambling lobby is blanket affordability checks at a very low level, the kind of checks that would compel punters to prove they could afford to have a flutter.

“But compare that to drinking, what would voters say if Government, in a move to protect alcoholics, decided to set a limit on how much the rest of us could spend on drink across a set timeframe? There would be outrage, and rightly so. A ‘one size fits all’ approach rarely fits anyone.”

The MP’s comments come amid the impending Government review of the Gambling Act 2005, which aims to ensure UK gambling is fit for the digital age.

He suggested that one appropriate method could be to rely on the technology and tools that are already available and devise a targeted approach, one that identifies those at risk and puts in additional protections, all the while allowing the rest of the public to carry on betting.

Jenkinson also noted the dangers of the black market, explaining that overregulation of the legal market could push punters into that space, where there is now double the number of users and billions are being staked, he said.

“None of that cash is going to the sports we love, like horseracing, darts, snooker, rugby or football,” said Jenkinson. “It is not investing anything into preventing problem gambling or harm prevention. And crucially, it is raising zero cash for the Treasury.”

Earlier this week, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said two-thirds of punters believe "nanny state" spending limits on betting would spark a rise in black market gambling in the UK.

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