The cross-party group campaigned previously for an end to credit card betting and the curbing of fixed-odds betting terminals. Following on, it has called for tighter all-around controls in an overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act. Betting advertising has boomed since 2005.
What might happen? Suggestions include a total ban on television and online gambling adverts, an end to so-called VIP schemes and similar inducements, a £2 limit for online slot machines, more affordability checks, controls on the design of gambling games and a new ombudsman to handle disputes.
The MPs argue that the gambling industry is incapable of self-regulation, or unwilling to take what they deem to be necessary steps. They claim that the sector is riding roughshod over people’s lives.
The Gambling Commission has also been under fire, criticised for its efficacy. “Not fit for purpose” was the call, pointing to the relatively small £19 million budget and failure to adapt to technological changes. In turn, the Gambling Commission rebutted the claims and advised that it was drastically reducing gambling harm.
Industry lobby the Betting and Gaming Council is reported as saying: “We are committed to making more changes and driving up safer gambling standards and we look forward to working with the government.”
Gambling operators have made selective changes. There was a voluntary television and radio advertising ban during the first lockdown and the opting out of ads during sports matches. The Advertising Association (AA) said this had reduced exposure to youngsters by 97%.
Subsequently, a government report was published and a review launched to attempt to ensure that gambling laws are fit for this digital age. This was in tandem with a decision to raise the National Lottery minimum age limit in October 2021.
Fourteen specialist clinics are to be opened as part of an NHS long-term plan to expand the coverage of services for people who experience serious gambling problems. A dedicated children and young person’s service is operating in London.
The AA summed up the current situation by saying: “Gambling legislation is a highly sensitive issue and we believe gambling companies must be responsible in their use of the tools provided by the advertising industry.
"We remain of the view that it is essential gambling companies use advertising responsibly and follow the requirements to ensure their ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful.”