Carolyn Harris condemns gambling industry reaction amid imminent reforms

Carolyn Harris
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Gambling reformist Carolyn Harris has labelled the reaction of UK gambling leaders to proposed changes in the industry as “simply not good enough”.

Speaking at a two-hour debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, the Chair of the Gambling Related Harm APPG accused UK gambling leadership of avoidance and failing to provide suitable alternatives to issues that have been presented during recent years.

“For years, colleagues across the House and I have faced an onslaught of opposition from the gambling industry, for which the status quo is the perfect mix of outdated legislation, weak sanctions and limited scope,” said Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East.

“The reforms that we propose would fix that broken state of affairs.

“Rather than enter into a proper dialogue with those who are looking to reform and improve our gambling laws, the industry has come forward with very little in the way of remedies.

“It has resorted to playground name-calling, labelling those who are seeking improvements and reform as prohibitionists and, in my case, a Methodist. As a Welsh woman, I do not consider that an insult. That response is simply not good enough.”

Further emphasis has also been placed on the need to protect the most vulnerable members of communities.

Gambling Related Harm APPG has presented its alternative vision on gambling’s future governance, arguing that “diverting expenditure by the public to other sectors which are more labour intensive than the gambling sector could create up to 30,000 new jobs, and employee earnings could increase by up to £400m”.

Harris concluded: “Putting a limit of £100 a month on net deposits is a sensible, proportionate and, more importantly, evidence-based position, especially when we consider that the average level of disposable income in Britain is £450 a month and that 73% of slot players and 85% of non-slot players lose £50 or less a month.

“A soft cap at £100 is therefore low enough to enable the vast majority of gamblers to continue without any checks whatsoever, as the vast majority of gambling activity occurs below this level.”

Fellow APPG member Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford and former Tory leader, said: “I urge the government to come forward and not to listen to the shrill voices that surround them at times, telling them ‘this is going to destroy and damage an industry, and it is going to lead to huge hardships and problems’.”

Smith added: “It is time for the gambling industry to recognise that the time is up, change is coming—it has to come—and it is  not too soon, given the lives that have been lost and the damage that has been done to families. I say to my colleagues, do not continue to defend its bad practices.”