East Devon's MP Sir Hugo Swire has called on the Government and betting companies to do more to limit the social costs of gambling.
In a debate in Parliament's second chamber known as Westminster Hall, Hugo said that we cannot understand the gambling industry today and all its associated costs and harms without looking at how Parliament has previously tried to regulate the sector.
Hugo served as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport between 2005 and 2007. During this period the Government of the time admitted it was presiding over "an explosion in online gambling".
In the debate, Hugo argued that the former Labour Government's focus on super-casinos provided for under the 2005 Gambling Act left a vacuum in online-gambling regulation. Since then, legislation has tended to be "one-step behind the curve". It is only in April of this year that fixed odds betting terminals will be limited to a £2 maximum stake.
Hugo listed five policy asks for Ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:
- Treat gambling as a public health issue as we do with mental health.
- Tougher verification checks could ensure young gamblers are not drawn online.
- Limit gambling adverts during sports match breaks to one-per break per company.
- Conduct a full review of the social costs of gambling. For example, the Government has never made an estimate of the cost of gambling-related harm to the NHS.
- Ensure that gambling-related harm is included when Health Education is made compulsory in all state-funded schools, as part of teaching on mental wellbeing.
You can watch Hugo's speech in the video.