West Norfolk MP demands urgent reform of gambling regulations
A West Norfolk MP has called for urgent reforms of gambling regulation amid fears the system is "stacked against" vulnerable customers.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild has spoken out today following the publication of a report by the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee, of which he is a member.
The report called for an urgent review of current gambling laws, plus a plan, to be drawn up within three months, to develop better understanding of gambling problems and more effective regulation.
Mr Wild said: "Frankly the regulator is not at the races – it works at a glacial pace, has no targets to reduce levels of harm, and is behind the curve on online gaming.
"I know from my constituents the devastating impact of problem gambling on people’s mental health, families, relationships, and lives.
"It is essential that the government’s review of the Gambling Act leads to urgent changes and a more effective regime.”
The committee also recommended improved measurements of how problem gambling is tackled, more work on ways in which fixed odds betting, which currently falls under lottery rules, might be accessed by 16 and 17-year-olds and that consumer rights for punters are reconsidered.
Mr Wild said: "The deck is stacked against vulnerable people being treated fairly.
"Glaring gaps in the regulatory system mean individuals cannot get redress if gambling operators fail to meet social responsibility obligations that are meant to protect problem gamblers."
The Gambling Commission said: “We are committed to making even further and faster progress to address gambling harms and were already addressing a number of the issues highlighted by the National Audit Office earlier this year.
“Over the past two years we have strengthened player protection measures, tightened the regulation of the online sector, introduced strict age and ID verification checks, brought in a ban on gambling with credit cards, and been tougher through our enforcement activity.
“We accepted before the committee that there is always more to do and we are carefully considering the findings of their report to see what other additional steps we can take.”