The UK Gambling Commission has responded to concerns that gambling addiction is increasing in the country by launching a new three years strategy.
This follows some decisions taken by the government that have already squeezed profits from betting companies earlier in the year with the maximum stake that can be played at FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) reduced from £100 to £2.
Over the last year, the UK Gambling Commission has also been very firm and has handed out some big penalties like the 6.2m to William Hill who was found breaching the social responsibility regulations and the anti-money-laundering rules.
'Serious health issue'
The response from regulator came off the back of some studies that have estimated that around 430,000 people are currently experiencing issues with gambling.
The NHS also has highlighted that there is clear evidence of a link between stress, depression and other mental health problems and gambling.
Marc Etches who is the head of the GambleAware charity has reiterated that Gambling is a severe public health problem in the UK. He also said that there are around 2 million adults that are affected by some level of gambling-related problems. In some cases, gambling addiction takes a person all the way to suicide.
He has been working with the UK Gambling Commission to come up with a new strategy. He said that he welcomed the commitments from the gambling industry to reduce the amount of advertising and also to increase the funds necessary for research, prevention and treatment of gambling problems but there is a lot more that can be done in the industry.
Betting companies are stopping their perimeter adverts at football matches
As reported by a leading online casinos comparison site, the betting industry has come forward to help in reducing problem gambling. From August it will completely stop TV advertising during the majority of live sport.
This idea is following the 'Nobody Harmed' programme that was developed by William Hill to prevent gambling addiction. The betting giant also appointed a group director of strategy and sustainability, Lyndsay Wright, that has the task to lead the programme.
Chief executive of William Hill, Philip Bowcock said to the Daily Telegraph that the decision to switch off customers for safer gambling reasons has costed the company around £17m. He also reiterated that more can be done to help and to continue tackling problem gambling. He said that William Hill are prepared to take some short-term commercial hits to build a future where customers that enjoy gambling can do so in a responsible way for long term. If they stay safe, they will be around for much longer, he concluded.
Mims Davies, The Minister for Sport and Civil Society also said that every gambling business has to do everything they can to protect people from the harm of gambling activities. He said that it is proven that addiction can ruin lives and those who need help have to be promptly identified and get to the right treatment as fast as possible.'
The majority of the new UK Gambling Commission strategy is focusing on gathering better information and funding more research into the effects of gambling. The Commission will also set up a National Research Centre where a national database can be built.
The chairman of the UK Gambling Commission, William Moyes said that we all need to understand better what are the problems caused by gambling. He said that simply counting problem gamblers is not enough and that we have to go deeper to understand the harms experienced to prevent them and treat them.
Public Health England has been tasked to carry on the first review of the evidence of how gambling is affecting public health. The study should be ready in spring next year.
The director of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and justice, Rosanna O'Connor said that building up a thorough understanding of these harms will indicate the best way to respond to them in the short and longer term.