The Chips are Down – Increased pressure upon Gambling Operators to change their ways
The UK Gambling Industry has been hit by two significant announcements this week. Firstly, the Gambling Commission announced a radical new step to ban the use of credit cards, in an attempt to try and tackle problem gambling online. Shortly afterwards, the head of NHS mental health services in England, Claire Murdoch, wrote to five major gambling companies demanding urgent changes to tackle the impact of gambling addiction, which is now more openly being considered as a serious public health concern.
The Ban on Credit Cards
This move comes in the wake of the findings of the Government’s official report on changes to online gambling, and the UKGC review of online gambling, the latter of which confirmed that as at November 2017, the online gambling sector was generating a staggering £4.7 billion a year – a figure which is predicted to continue to increase.
Statistics show that out of the 2.9 million people placing bets online every year, an astonishing 30% either have no disposable income, or less than £125 per month and are often therefore using credit cards to fund their gambling. Furthermore, a shocking 55% of gamblers surveyed admitted having to borrow money to make ends meet, including reliance upon credit facilities.
Therefore, the UKGC have taken the long overdue step to try and prevent problem gamblers from being able to use credit facilities to fund their gambling, a move which many campaigners have been trying to achieve for a number of years.
Whilst the announcement is certainly a welcome step in the right direction towards safer and more responsible gambling, a simple ban on credit card usage does not strike at the heart of the problem. For example, the new regulation does not deal with the issue of problem gamblers taking out loans or other credit facilities, or borrowing money from family and friends to fund their gambling, which remains an even more significant problem than the usage of credit cards.
Unprecedented NHS Intervention
In an extraordinary move, the NHS has intervened in the UK’s gambling crisis to criticise the use of targeted advertising, free bets/bonuses, VIP experiences, etc., which “…all proactively prompt people back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape.”
Ms Murdoch’s damning letter has petitioned gambling companies to implement a number of harm-minimisation measures, including stopping the targeting of high-loss customers and ending ‘bet-to-view’. Whilst these suggestions are not new or novel ideas, this is certainly the first time that someone in Ms Murdoch’s position has spoken out so frankly about the harm caused by gambling addiction, which is causing an unnecessary burden upon NHS mental health services.
Specifically in relation to the impact on the NHS, Ms Murdoch wrote: “For seven decades the NHS has adapted services in response to current challenges, but we should not be expected to pick up the pieces from lives damages by avoidable harm.”
How can Ellis Jones help you?
Ellis Jones has a specialist betting and gaming disputes team to assist anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly by gambling firms and/or lost money as a result. We have recently been in the national news for achieving an outstanding result for a client with a high value dispute against a major betting operator, and have experience of dealing with and resolving these type of matters in a number of different ways, including submitting complaints to betting companies, and working with the Gambling Commission and other agencies. Please contact us on 01202 525333 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your case and how we may be able to assist you in recovering your losses.