Public backs more robust safety measures for online gambling, UK poll suggests
By Josie Clarke, PA Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Public support for a ban on all gambling for under-18s and a £2 limit for online slot machines should embolden the Government to introduce more robust safety measures, campaigners have said.
The Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) found just 8% of gamblers and 5% of non-gamblers would oppose a £2 limit for online slots, in line with the Fixed Odds Betting Terminal maximum bet amount that was cut from £100 to £2 in 2019.
Online slot machines have soared in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic as lockdowns and the cancellation of sporting events have seen gamblers turning to the games in record numbers.
Campaigners said there is also little opposition to a ban on VIP schemes, which can encourage gamblers to bet more than they would otherwise; a new levy on the gambling industry to support independent research; education and treatment of gambling harms; or for gambling products to only be allowed to enter the market once the level of harm they cause has been assessed and found to be below a certain level.
The GHA poll found the majority of gamblers and non-gamblers said they would support a ban on all gambling advertising in or near sports grounds or venues and affordability checks for anyone who gambles.
Some 57% of gamblers and 63% of non-gamblers support a ban on all gambling for under-18s, who are currently able to access low-stake fruit machines, coin pushers and crane grabs.
It is calling on the Government to introduce robust measures to make gambling safer as it undertakes its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The GHA said its polling suggested there was public appetite for the Government to take a public health approach in its current review to protect the whole population from gambling harm.
A consultation on the review led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is due to end this month.
GHA spokeswoman Louisa Mason said: “For too long the gambling ecosystem has developed into a powerful mechanism that has the potential to unleash harm and devastate lives. We now have the chance to do better and protect all those who gamble in the UK – and the public supports this.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of campaign group Clean Up Gambling, said: “Public support for gambling reform is overwhelming. It’s one of the few issues uniting the country across political, demographic and regional lines.
“There is a growing consensus that our gambling laws are outdated and regulation is not fit for purpose. The Government cannot waste the opportunity this review presents to make it right.”
Yonder surveyed 2,094 UK adults in February.