Richard Graham, a Conservative MP, recently called the government to impose a gambling levy for the “prevention and cure” of problem gambling. The MP from Gloucester wrote in PoliticsHome that about 250 to 650 incidents of suicide are linked to gambling. He said that the situation needs to be tackled urgently, especially as more than 55,000 people under the age of 14 are gambling addicts.
Graham said, “We need to know how people can rack up massive debts without gambling companies, banks or regulators being able to prevent it. How easy is it for gamblers to self-exclude comprehensively? How can credit be cut off?”
He even went on to suggest the possible answers to these problems- a gambling levy. He said that with the gross profits of the industry going up to £14 billion, the sector could pay a levy to the government. He said that the money collected by the levy could help in funding research and gambling clinics.
Graham noted that his Ten-Minute Rule Bill is also coming soon, which would propose the levy to the government, adding that it could be an important step in improving the understanding of the impending problem. He highlighted that more should be done to protect the young, such as removing gambling advertising from live sports broadcasts. He also backs a stronger self-exclusion scheme that can be supported by a strong commitment from the banks.
The government is already working towards these goals. Last month, new strict ID rules were called for, along with age and ID checks before a gambler places bets. The new self-exclusion scheme for addicts will come into force in May. When it is implemented, gambling operators will have to remove more than 60,000 people’s accounts who have signed up with Gamstop. Failing, this they will lose their licenses.
Graham is also urging the government to embrace technology to add more gambling clinics in the country. Regulators will not be able to curb this problem alone according to Graham who went on to call gambling the “tobacco of this generation.” He said that tobacco too was widely advertised, then restricted a now there is an outright ban on the same.
The bookmakers also pledged a new deal in January which will see £3 million channeling towards the welfare of racing greyhounds. The pledge involves top players like Paddy Power Betfair, Sky Betting and Gaming, Betfred and William Hill.