UK charity Gambling With Lives has criticised casino operators for offering “inadequate consumer protection” in the UK. and has called on the Government to make changes to raise standards within the industry.
Gambling With Lives, a charity which aims to raise awareness of problem gambling and its harmful effects, made the comments in a letter sent to MP Oliver Dowden, the UK secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
In the letter titled ‘We Are The Evidence Too’, the charity praised the launch of the UK Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005 but stressed that the Government must do more to help protect consumers.
As reported by Gambling Insider, the letter also responded to the BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher’s comments warning the government that overregulation could drive gamers to the “unregulated black market online”, criticising them as “scaremongering”.
Suggesting that online casinos in the UK need tighter regulation, the letter says: “If the Government wants to prevent harm, it should be finding ways to raise standards – not excuses to facilitate a race to the bottom.
“The threat of the ‘black market’ has been overstated by the gambling industry, which should not be allowed to use this as an excuse to hold down standards in Britain. Because those standards are far too low and the resulting harm far too high from a sector that derives the majority of its profits from people who get addicted.”
The letter includes 30 signatures from gamblers, The Big Step charity founder and Gambling With Lives Senior Programme Manager James Grimes, and drew on their collective experience, stating that the signatures collectively lost £11.9 million across more than 500 regulated gambling site accounts, compared to the £113,000 lost on the online black market.
Gambling With Lives’ letter comes a month after the UK Government launched its review into the Gambling Act 2005 with a call for evidence which is expected to run until March. As part of the review, the Government will be looking at imposing changes on sports betting sponsorships, limiting online stakes, enforcing tighter regulations on gambling advertising, and more.
The launch of the long-awaited review has been praised by gamers, MPs, and gambling charities and organisations, and the Government has already announced that the minimum age to play the National Lottery will increase to 18 from October this year.
The news also comes as gambling charity GambleAware has named a new CEO, promoting existing Communications and Engagement Director Zeo Osmond to replace Marc Etches as head of the organisation.
Osmond previously served as the Chief Executive of the National Advertising Benevolent Society, a charity which focuses on supporting workers in media and advertising, and as a partner at Oystercatchers Partnerships, a marketing consultancy.
Since joining GambleAware in 2018, Osmond spearheaded the organisation’s safer gambling and treatment campaigns and has worked closely with people from the Government, media, gaming industry, and more.
GambleAware chair Kate Lampard CBE told FocusGN: “In the past two and a half years that I and trustees have worked with Zoe, she has demonstrated to us that she fits the criteria we are looking for perfectly.
“Her knowledge and experience of GambleAware means she can hit the ground running, something that is of particular importance when starting a leadership role during a pandemic.”
She continued: “Her ability to work with a wide range of subject matter experts and her experience of transforming a charity, building businesses, and leading change will be instrumental in taking GambleAware to the next stage in its development.”
Responding to the news, Osmond added: “GambleAware is at an exciting moment in its history, and over the past ten years, Marc Etches has done a phenomenal job in leading the charity to this point.
“It is a critical time for the gambling sector and the recent pledge of up to £100M from the gambling industry means this is a significant time to shape and drive forward GambleAware’s vital work and develop its own expertise.”
She continued: “I am excited by the prospect of transformation and the opportunities now available to GambleAware to work with other organisations to prevent gambling harm and I look forward to taking on the challenge.”
GambleAware’s announcement of Zoe Osmonds as new CEO comes after the charity this week revealed that it received more than £4 million in donations from gambling operators and from settlements between operators and the UK Gambling Commission.
Since its initial announcement, current CEO Mark Etches has stated that the charity expects to receive £5 million in donations before the end of the fourth quarter of the 2020-21 financial year in March.
He also confirmed that the charity expects donations to grow within the coming years with at least £10 million expected for the 2021-22 financial yeat, £25 million in donations expected for the 2022-23 financial year, and £35 million in donations expected for the 2023-24 financial year.
In a statement shared with iGamingBusiness, Etches confirmed that the organisation is working with various organisations to ensure the funding is used to the best of its ability. He said:
“GambleAware is working with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS to ensure the best use of this pledged funding, and to align and integrate the expansion of treatment services across the whole system so patients get the right treatment at the right time.
“GambleAware plans to publish a new Strategic Commissioning Plan in April 2021 that will detail the charity’s objectives for commissioning prevention and treatment services during the next five years.”
The charity recently launched a new phase of its National Gambling Treatment Service campaign, which was designed to raise awareness of the charity’s treatment service.