Gambling harm APPG harm group launches igaming inquiry

12 February 2019

The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has launched a new inquiry into the harms caused by online gaming, with a view on identifying the best remedies and recommendations to tackle the issue.

The parliamentary group will examine the full impact of online gambling, the addictive nature of some products in this market and their effect on vulnerable people, including children.

In addition, the inquiry will explore the effectiveness of various age and identity verification mechanisms that are currently in place with igaming operators, as well as self-exclusion schemes and provisions for problem and at-risk gamblers.

As part of the study, the APPG is now inviting the public, organisations, industry bodies and academics to submit written evidence until March 14. The group will also hold a series of oral evidence sessions from next month in order to capture more opinion from the market.

“According to recent reports of British gambling behaviour, the prevalence of problem gambling among those who gamble online is similar to those who played FOBTs. Naturally, following our successful campaign to reduce the harm caused by FOBTs, online gambling became the next area of serious concern," group chair and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Swansea East Carolyn Harris explained. “Our group has received numerous correspondence from individuals and families harmed by online gambling and has already been informed about the ploy by bookmakers to lure would-be FOBT players online.

“We are deeply concerned about the harms caused by online gambling and particularly the impact and harm of online gambling on children," Harris said. “Following this inquiry, we will be setting out a number of policy changes and recommendations to tackle this issue.”

The new Gambling Related Harm APPG was formed last month after the existing Fixed Odds Betting Terminals APPG opted to expand its reach and focus in order to tackle a wider range of issues linked to gambling. The group had successfully campaigned for the maximum stake on FOBTs to be lowered from £100 to £2.

Labour MP Harris retained her role as group chair, with support from vice-chairs Iain Duncan Smith MP of the Conservatives, the Scottish National Party's Ronnie Cowan MP, Conservative peer Lord Chadlington and Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon.

Image: Santeri Viinamäki