THE announcement of a new House of Lords special inquiry into gambling has been welcomed by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith.
The new Lords committee, which will examine the “social and economic consequences” of the gambling industry, was announced last Friday. It will begin its investigation later this year, and produce a report by March 2020.
Dr Smith said: “This means we can start to meet the needs of problem gamblers, and honour the hopes of the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of problem gambling.
“It’s time we broke the silence for them. This inquiry is a vital part of that.”
The Liaison Committee of the House of Lords recommended the gambling industry as one of four areas for inquiries, as proposed by Dr Smith.
He continued: “An overdue inquiry, it will have the range, depth, and authority to mount a truly evidence-based investigation. Currently, we have seen levels of suicide and other gambling-related harms becoming part of the national consciousness, while 55,000 young people are now classified as problem gamblers.
“When I first started campaigning for better protection for children and the most vulnerable from harmful gambling products, I knew we needed this kind of independent evidence-based approach.
“There is a great groundswell of concern about the rise in gambling addiction, and the Church of England’s General Synod has recently put its weight behind supporting those with gambling addictions and calling for research, education, and treatment.”
The “huge social change” in the gambling industry in the past 15 years had crept in largely unnoticed, he said. Advertising for betting companies, unlike tobacco advert ising, had not been permitted previously.
In the present day, Dr Smith said, more children gambled than drank alcohol, smoked, or took drugs.