*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Bishop of St Albans castigates betting industry in Lords debate

22 October 2021

Alamy

THE betting industry seeks to blame “a small group of weak individuals” for the surge in problem gambling instead of accepting that their products are the cause, the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, told the House of Lords last week.

Opening a debate on Public Health England’s evidence review of gambling-related harms, he highlighted the difference in approach which it identified between commercial and non-commercial stakeholders. “Commercial stakeholders thought the focus should be on intervention and treatment rather than on creating a safer gambling environment,” he said.

“It wanted to blame a small group of weak individuals, who we should sort of pity and give a bit of support to, instead of actually acknowledging that many of these products are designed to be addictive right from the start.”

In many cases of gambling-related suicides, operators, “far from attempting to intervene on behalf of a gambler’s welfare, are still actively encouraging the person to gamble. Right up to — indeed, sometimes after — the person has died, they are receiving calls and offers of free gambling.”

Dr Smith said that the gambling industry should pay for the harm that it caused. Currently, the Government relies on the “good will” of gambling companies to pay a voluntary levy of £100 million over five years towards research, education, and treatment.

Instead, he argued, there should be a mandatory levy of one per cent of gross gambling yield, which would raise about £150 million annually. “Furthermore, it would remove the industry’s control over the disbursement of funds for research, treatment, and education, and break the link that makes many academics unwilling to accept funding, because their research won’t be taken seriously.”

The review suggests that gambling should be considered as a public-health issue, which, Dr Smith said, “implies we need a public-health approach. This won’t be achieved by relying on the good will of profit-driven gambling operators to intervene. What is required is a firm line on affordability checks to prevent those individuals who are susceptible to harm from depositing unaffordable amounts, alongside a comprehensive network of intervention and treatment.”

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

 

Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available

 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available

 

Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available

 

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)