Gambling-related harm debate in Westminster Hall

A House of Commons non-legislative debate – opened by Ronnie Cowan MP – was held in Westminster Hall on 19 March 2019. You can download below:

  1. the transcript of the debate
  2. a House of Commons Library report on gambling-related harm published in advance of the debate

During the debate, Carolyn Harris, Chair of the Gambling-Related Harm APPG, said:

The first priority of our APPG will be to look at the harms caused by the growth of online gambling. According to recent reports on British gambling behaviour, the prevalence of problem gambling among those who gamble online — at the casino, the slots and the bingo-style games — is very similar to its prevalence among those who play FOBTs. Currently, there are close to 3 million problem and at-risk gamblers in the UK, and 10% of them play online casino, slots and bingo.

Particularly hard-hitting criticism of the gambling industry was made by former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan-Smith. His speech included the following remarks:

…. we had this whole debate about fixed odds betting terminals, which were a problem. I am astonished that, given all the evidence, it took us so long to finally get movement, first from the Gambling Commission and finally from the Government. The onslaught from the gambling industry was a sight to behold. There was an onslaught of misrepresented figures and everything else …. The whole pattern of advertising is to drive people to gambling. We then discovered that the way this works behind the scenes is quite scandalous. For example, bet365 has recently revealed that players who rack up huge losses are rewarded with weekly cash returns of up to 10% so that they can carry on playing …. the Government need to right a wrong. The wrong was that we opened the whole of the regulatory process to gambling. It does not matter which Government did it; it was done. Now we need to bring the beast back under control.

At the conclusion of the debate, Gambling Minister Mims Davies responded on behalf of the Government, concluding with the words:

I am glad that recognition of gambling-related harm has increased, as we have seen today. It is a serious issue and a lot of work is being done by a range of bodies, and it is important that we acknowledge their good will and commitment as well as recognising where we need to go further. Strong protections are in place and they are being further strengthened, but we continue to gather knowledge and evidence of harm. I look forward to working with the House, updating hon. Members and working with business on this area to ensure that only responsible practices and actions remain.