Gambling Minister Paul Scully has cited developments in Australia that are influencing the UK government’s battle to tackle gambling harms.
Delivering his speech at the 2022 GambleAware annual conference on Wednesday, December 7, Scully discussed recent changes implemented within the gambling industry and the impending Gambling Act Review – slated for release this month – with the central theme of gambling harms as a health issue.
“People who start experiencing difficulties must be spotted early, before lasting damage is done, and they must be helped. We need to get that right,” said Scully, appointed as Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy in October.
The last Health Survey for England found that 246,000 people were considered problem gamblers, with a further 1.6 million at risk of suffering harm.
“For people in the worst situations, their lives can be ruined – with bankruptcy, losing a home, relationship and family breakdown and even suicide.
“Our review of the Gambling Act will take action to help prevent these harms, with targeted, proportionate and effective reform.”
The Minister then referenced developments down under, where the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) sets gambling standards on advertising.
“I am aware of the changes introduced in Australia which mandate specific taglines in advertising.
“We are considering these developments and others very closely and want a solution that works for our own country.
“But having a greater public awareness of the potential harms and equally the sources of support is so important.”
Turning his attention to problem gambling charities in the UK, Scully praised the role of GambleAware, which recently revealed that 86% of those that completed their treatment saw their psychological well-being surrounding their gambling improve.
“The Advertising Standards Authority rules to prevent gambling adverts having inappropriate appeal to children have now come into force.
“I know these were in response to landmark research commissioned by GambleAware and is a textbook example of what collaboration in tackling gambling harms can deliver.
“I’m very aware of the invaluable role that GambleAware plays in treatment provision, commissioning the majority of specialist support for people experiencing problems with gambling.
“The commitment to establish up to 15 specialist NHS clinics by 23/24 is also progressing well.
“I fully support the work of GambleAware and GamCare to help integrate your services with those of the NHS, including in primary care settings.”
Publication of the White Paper has been a source of great frustration for many in the UK gambling industry, with political upheaval throughout 2022 further delaying the publication of a document promised in the Conservatives election-winning 2019 manifesto.
The latest message is that it will be delivered “as soon as we can”.
“The Gambling Act review is an opportunity to put the right framework in place to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities which have come with the changes since the 2005 Gambling Act was passed.”
Scully concluded: “We’re determined to make sure that the Review gets the right protections in place.
“We are committed to the Review and I am aware that delays to the white paper have been difficult.
“I am pleased to confirm that we are keen to publish it in the coming weeks.
“But I want to make clear that the white paper is not the end of our discussions on these matters.”