'No evidence' of problem gambling increase - betting body hits out at MPs report
The Betting and Gaming Council has warned customers are in danger of being pushed into betting with illegal offshore operators after a group of MPs called for a complete ban on advertising and restrictions on online slot stakes.
In a report published on Tuesday the All Party Parliamentary Gambling Related Harm Group describes the Gambling Commission as "not fit for purpose" and calls for a new Gambling Act.
Following a year-long inquiry the 50-strong group of parliamentarians, which includes former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, sets out more than 30 recommendations including stake limits for online slot content of no higher than £2; an urgent review of stakes, deposit and prize limits online as well as a complete review and classification of online products; and a mandatory 'smart' levy to be paid by gambling operators to fund independent research, education, prevention and treatment.
Responding to the report, a Betting and Gaming Council spokesperson said: "Over 20 million adults enjoy gambling occasionally, whether that’s on the National Lottery, bingo, sports or gaming, including online, and the overwhelming majority of them do so safely.
"Both the regulator and the government have made it clear that there is in fact no evidence that problem gambling has increased, but as an industry we have to keep doing more to help those people for whom gambling does become a problem.
"Since the BGC was formed as the standards body last year, we have driven a number of significant changes across the industry – advertising restrictions, encouraging deposit limits, monitoring play and spend so we can intervene to prevent customers getting into difficulties, closing online accounts, introducing strict new ID and age verifications, implementing the ban on credit cards and massively increasing funding for research, education and treatment.
"We are committed to making even more changes and to driving up safer gambling standards further, and we look forward to working with the government on their forthcoming review."
The spokesperson added: "Of course there will always be people who are anti-gambling and prohibitionists who are not interested in the fact the regulated industry supports over 100,000 jobs and pays over £3 billion in tax.
"But we have to avoid measures that could drive people away from gambling safely with online companies who operate in what is rightly already a heavily regulated market, to instead gambling online with unregulated, offshore, black market, illegal operators that don’t conform to any standards or safeguards to protect problem gamblers and the most vulnerable."
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