I know that millions of people enjoy gambling in a safe way and they should be able to continue to do so in a free country.
It is my view that any changes to the law should be approached from a public health perspective, to protect children and vulnerable adults with more effective regulation, whilst allowing others to gamble safely.
I welcome the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005, which was launched in December 2020. It will consider a range of issues including online stake limits, gambling advertising and age limits. The Government has said that its intention is to find ways of introducing reforms to prevent serious harm caused by gambling addiction while allowing those who can bet safely to do so.
The call for evidence closed on 31 March 2021, and on 8 December 2021, the Gambling Minister said: “our Review is looking at a very wide range of issues and our call for evidence received 16,000 submissions which we are considering carefully. We will publish a White Paper which sets out our vision for the sector in the coming months”. I will follow developments on this closely.
Problem gambling costs lives, and, in my view, we need fit-for-purpose regulation which can keep up with the changing nature of gambling online. I am disappointed that the review took over a year to be launched as it meant more people have suffered from gambling-related harm without getting vital support.
Everyone has the right to spend their own money enjoying themselves. However, where a harm is clear, the Government has a duty and responsibility to tackle it. The first priority of a government is to protect its citizens, but a balance must be struck that also protects their civil liberties.
I can assure you that I will continue to approach this review, and the upcoming White Paper, from the perspective that I set out above; protecting children and vulnerable adults whilst allowing others to continue to gamble. I will be encouraging the Government to also take this approach.