While many would think that all of a sudden everybody is talking about gambling addiction explaining how it is on the rise in the UK, the fact is those who had been observing the evolving gambling landscape in Europe, saw it coming. It was brewing over the years, and now it has just surfaced with the opposition, social groups, the UK gambling commission and even gambling operators like GVC talking about tackling gambling addiction.
Recently there have been several measures announced to address the issue of problem gambling including; cutting the maximum stake limit to 2 GBP on FOBTs; UKGC introducing a mandatory verification to curb underage betting; GVC chief along with a group of gambling operators supporting a blanket ban on all gambling adverts for televised sports except horse racing; issuing letter to gambling operators urging them to proactively ensure consumer protection and not merely tick the boxes for sake of appearing to be following the guidelines and a ban on betting on credit amongst others.
Is It Effective?
However, the question remains, how effective these steps would be. A recent study suggest that gambling amongst children is at an all-time high in the UK. The study finds that 55,000 children are at risk, one in seven is actively participating in gambling activities, and the number of underage minors with gambling problems has risen by 400 percent in just two years.
That said, here’s what’s more worrying than all of it – even when gambling operators seem to be aligned to the UK Gambling Commission, the government appears to be lacking the will to implement stringent measures to take charge in the battle against growing problem of gambling addiction.
Call For A Mandatory Gambling Levy
Earlier when UKGC recommended introducing a mandatory gambling levy in its bid to curb problem gambling and also to secure more funds which would go towards awareness programs and setting up treatment centers for gambling addicts, the government just shrugged it off saying they have other policies in the pipeline.
The government is facing severe backlash after it turned down the Gambling Commission’s recommendation to introduce a mandatory levy. However, the question that arises: Are the UK government officials genuinely concerned about gambling addiction, if yes, what is it that stops them to approve and implement a mandatory gambling levy as recommended by the country’s gambling commission?
Let’s Hear What British Medical Journal Says
While they may try to avoid the question by manipulating the facts and playing by the weak idea behind delaying or indefinitely postponing it, the recommendation for mandatory levy may turn into a public demand; especially after the recent BMJ (British Medical Journal) study finds that:
a) Current approaches targeting affected individuals substantially underestimate the harms of gambling
b) gambling places a major burden of harm on individuals, communities, and society
c) Harms from gambling are generated through a range of political, legislative, commercial and interpersonal actions
d) Public health approaches to reduce harms related to gambling should encompass a range of population based approaches supported by regulation, legislation. and funding.
The gambling commission defines gambling-related harm as “adverse impacts from gambling on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities, and society.”
Further, the research findings read: “We need a systematic reframing of the issue that recognizes the major burden of harms that gambling places on not only individuals but also communities and society and that acknowledges the role of commercial, policy, and regulatory forces in shaping the environment in which these harms occur. Then we need a shift in policy that focuses on the broader effects of gambling on individuals, families, friends, communities, and society.”
While it is clear that there is a lot more to be done at all levels, introducing a mandatory gambling levy would be the first substantial step forward on the part of the UK administration towards recognizing the problem in its most real sense.
For inspiration, the country may look at Singapore, who have raised $1 billion from mandatory casino levy and has found the levy effectively minimizing the cases of gambling addiction. Also, the footfall in Singapore casinos have decreased by at least by 50 % since the country introduced a mandatory levy.