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RSPH backs calls for tougher online gambling limits

George Miller

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RSPH backs calls for tougher online gambling limits
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The Royal Society for Public Health, soon to establish a Gambling Health Alliance (GHA), welcomes the call for tougher limits on online gambling in today’s speech by Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

RSPH, who have previously called for gambling to be treated as a public health issue, support Watson’s definition of gambling activity in the UK as a public health emergency. The Health on the High Streetreport, published by RSPH, highlights that young people face an unprecedented level of exposure to gambling, with over 400,000 11-16 year olds spending their own money gambling each week.

The government are on course this year to implement a £2 maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals and a requirement that online operators verify a potential customer’s age before they can gamble. Labour’s policy would limit stakes in all online gambling, building on progress being made in taking action in this area to protect the public’s health.

Watson’s speech calls for a new Gambling Act, that would implement:

  • A system for checking affordability before a gambler can start higher deposits
  • Stake limits on products linked to higher rates of problem gambling
  • The integration of online games into the existing categorisation of gambling machines according to maximum stake and prize

In 2019 RSPH will establish the GHA with the support of GambleAware.

The Alliance which will initially be established for three years, has the primary objective of bringing together organisations and individuals, specifically policy makers, who have a shared interest in reducing the damage caused to health and wellbeing from gambling. The Alliance will seek to:

  • Highlight the rising concerns about gambling related harms;
  • Engage and influence policy makers, Government, NGOs and the public health community in order to encourage positive action;
  • Promote evidence so it can be translated into practical steps;
  • Undertake periodic surveys and polling to inform GHA campaigns to increase awareness of the health harms from gambling.

Niamh McDade, Senior Campaigns & Communications Executive at the RSPH, said: “It is vital that regulations in the online world catch up with restrictions being introduced offline and we welcome the call to limit stakes in all online gambling.

With 18% of the population gambling online, we must ensure that we identify and understand all sources of problem gambling. We look forward to establishing the GHA this year to provide a forum for all relevant stakeholders to collaborate and increase our understanding of the range social, economic and cultural factors that contribute to gambling related harms.”

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