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World News

Christian charity warns government not to water down gambling reforms

by Donna Birrell

Christian social policy charity CARE says ministers would be failing in their duty of care towards vulnerable citizens if planned reforms to gambling laws are watered down.

The government is due to publish a White Paper in the next few weeks which is expected to include a ban on betting ads on football strips to boost protections for vulnerable problem gamblers. 

Ministers had also expressed support for a mandatory levy on gambling companies to help fund research into addiction.

However several reports suggest officials at the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) have retreated from both these proposals.

"We need to see what's in this White Paper," CARE's senior policy manager Tim Cairns told Premier Christian News. 

"The government have promised a lot - levies, curbs on advertising and football, and all of those things, so we need to see what's coming forward. But it would certainly be very disappointing if the government was taking a step back and not live up to the obligations that it's set for itself.

"If you're watching a Premier League football match, you see a gambling logo about 700 times from the start of the match to the end of the match. That's an average 700 times you see the logo of a gambling company.
"Gambling companies can afford to pay for the harm that they create and the government needs to force them to do that."  

CARE's CEO Ross Hendy also said: "Gambling laws in the UK are simply not fit for purpose."

"Gambling addiction has grown exponentially in recent years. There are thought to be around 400,000 addicts in the UK, including 55,000 children. Current policies are failing people.

"Problem gambling causes huge harm to people, resulting in debt, depression, alcoholism, homelessness and even suicide. On average, one problem gambler commits suicide every single day. This is simply not acceptable. A compassionate society does not stand idly by and let this happen.

"Ministers should know that in watering down reforms, they are failing in their duty of care for those who they serve. Their retreat from necessary action today will be see individuals suffer terribly who might otherwise not have suffered. We call on the government to reconsider the gambling levy and measures to curb betting ads in sport."

The DCMS said: "We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age. We will be publishing a white paper ... in the coming weeks."


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