The Select Committee reviewing the ‘Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry’ has adjourned to asses the complexities facing the sector’s diverse stakeholders, as well as carry out an assessment of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The discussion, led by chairman of the Gambling Review Body Sir Alan Budd and Dan Waugh, Partner at Regulus Partners, has focused largely on the challenges associated with developing effective gambling policies, operator responsibility with regards to problem gambling treatments, and the potential impact that the gambling industry may have on those under the age of 18.
Sir Budd, who oversaw the development of the Gambling Review Report in 2001, explained that gambling regulation should act as a protective measure: “Regulation should be used not only to prevent criminal activity but also to protect the most vulnerable,” he said. “That was the main objectives of our proposals [in the 2001 Report].
“The control and regulation of gambling should include the desire to minimise the risks associated with problem gambling, but to get rid of problem gambling is probably an impossible task.”
Comparisons between the gambling industry and the alcohol and tobacco industries were drawn when considering where the onus lies in treating industry-associated harms, with Budd arguing that there are currently insufficient resources allocated towards the treatment of problem gambling.
He added: “The current provision of funding and NHS time for problem gambling is insufficient. Whether it becomes sufficient following the latest published report and because of larger contributions from the gambling industry, I don’t know. However, there is difficulty in answering the question of just how much money should be allocated towards treatment.”
The committee also attributed a failure to carry out consistent reviews of the industry to be the main reason as to why there was a lack of critical evidence relating to the overall social and economic impact of the gambling industry.
Waugh explained that due to the narrow scope of triennial reviews, one of which took three years to complete, it has been unclear what the overall impact of gaming has been on the vulnerable and young adults.
Betting leadership is reminded that the Select Committee will close its submission for evidence on its social and economic impacts inquiry this Friday 6 August.