Gambling with Lives founder: UK gambling industry “must act more responsibly”

The UK gambling industry “must act more responsibly” in working to prevent problem gambling and the market’s regulations are inadequate, according to the co-owner of charity Gambling with Lives.

One of the biggest talking points in the UK industry has been the apparent need for tighter regulation, particularly when online gambling has spiked during national lockdowns.

Government body Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee (DCMS) is currently leading a review into the 2005 Gambling Act, assessing the state of current UK regulation and whether reform is needed.

However, Charles Ritchie, co-founder of Gambling with Lives, the charity set up by families bereaved by gambling related suicides, believes the UK regulated market is “responsible” for most gambling addiction, and more responsibility must be taken by operators.

Speaking to Gambling Insider Ritchie said: “We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it is the current UK licensed and regulated gambling industry that is responsible for virtually all of the addiction and deaths that have happened so far. Regulation cannot be restricted or framed just to allow the UK industry to continue to harm on the scale that it does. 

“The industry must act more responsibly in its dealings with its customers. They should not be offering bonuses and inducements to persuade people to keep betting or gamble beyond their means.”

Responding to the threat the black market possesses, with a PwC report carried out by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) showing the amount of money staked with unlicensed operators doubled to £2.8bn ($3.9bn) in 2020 compared to 2019, Ritchie thinks such threats are “scaremongering.”

Ritchie added: “Many in the industry used to say that “affordability” was the key to tackling gambling harms. Now as the prospect of action draws near, the same people cry out about the black market. 

“We all need to be aware that people may find their way to the black market. However, we need to frame the debate in terms of what is actually known and not indulge in scaremongering. The tactics of the industry are very reminiscent of the payday loan industry when they were opposing reform. 

“The Gambling Commission says there is no evidence of significant black market activity in the UK at the moment. We are also in touch with hundreds of recovering gamblers and virtually none of them had any contact with black market sites. None of the young people lost by GWL families used the black market.”

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