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Problem Gambling - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:49 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Ashton of Hyde Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 3:49 pm, 2nd July 2019

I absolutely agree, and that is why we are doing so. The industry is regulated by the Gambling Commission, which was set up to do that. One of the licence conditions is that those in the industry should behave responsibly. Having said that, we have made recent changes. It is not just a question of the amount of money spent on treatment, important though that is, but a question of preventing problem gambling in the first place. I accept my noble friend’s point, which is that while the statistics are not perfect and debatable, and the number of problem gamblers small, there is a wider problem to the extent that, even if there are fewer than 1% problem gamblers, they affect a wider number of people, including families, communities and so on. However, the figures are not particularly big in numerical terms and are not, from all the evidence we have, growing; they are under 1%. A lot of work has been done on increasing the preventive element as well, not just treatment. There has been agreement on using new technology to divert advertising away from online gambling. More people are gambling online, so using online technology is a modern response to that.

We want to increase the availability of online messaging to review the tone and content of gambling companies’ marketing. We have launched a modern, up-to-date online system, GamStop, which is not perfect but is making a significant difference. It is a real-time self-exclusion scheme and the results so far have been good. That is in addition to the changes in advertising. The Government have not sat still and done nothing. We understand that changes have been made and that we must monitor the evidence to make sure that we are up to date. As I say, this is not cast in stone and, together with our advisers, the Gambling Commission, we will monitor the situation to make sure that we keep up to date.