Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Responsible gambling highlighted at Labour Party Conference

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A panel of experts including Bournemouth University’s Professor John McAlaney discussed the government’s Gambling White Paper and emerging policy for regulating gambling in the UK at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.

Hosted by Gordon Moody, a charity focussed on gambling addiction, the panel at the fringe event looked at the plan to update legislation in the UK to regulate gambling and explore the policy proposals and their impact on both the gambling sector and the lives of those affected by gambling harms.

Professor McAlaney leads the Gambling Research Group at Bournemouth University and shared his expertise, based on his research into responsible gambling and addiction, and particularly online gambling. He shared his curiosity about how the legislation will work in practice, and his hopes that the legislation will be further improved for those who have the potential for addiction through further consultation based on research.

Lived experience was a key focus of the discussion, looking at examples in practice of how lives have been changed and impacted by gambling harms, and how legislation can work to help protect people, and how those with experiences in gambling can help to support good policy creation. Statistics were shared on the depth of gambling problems in the UK, and the amount of money spent on gambling in the UK each week.

The last legislation on gambling in the UK, the Gambling Act 2005, was created before the rise in online gambling, and updated legislation is needed to regulate the changes and technological developments in the gambling industry since the Act came into law.

Professor McAlaney, a Trustee for Gordon Moody, also spoke about the issues of research funding for gambling and the duty of care that needs to be considered alongside legislation creation to provide life-long and easy access to support for those recovering from addiction.

Panel members included Hannah David, whose husband suffered from gambling addiction, Dr Jane Rigbye of youth gambling charity YGAM, Sarah Forshaw of Gordon Moody and Jenny Rathbone MS who represents Cardiff Central in the Welsh Senedd and is Chair of the Gambling-Related Harm Cross-Party Group.

Professor McAlaney, Professor of Psychology at Bournemouth University, said, “There is a real opportunity for the government to create gambling legislation that could make a real and meaningful impact to people’s lives, especially those at risk of addiction. We have seen and heard the devastating impact that gambling can have, especially online gambling, which is often too easy to access, and it is my hope that, through discussions like this, we can help to support the government as the legislation is created, to present research and experience to future-proof the legislation and make it as impactful as it can be”.

Hannah David shared her own lived experience, and the harm that can be caused, not only to those addicted to gambling, but to their families and those around them.

Sarah Forshaw of Gordon Moody also raised the issue of referral to gambling addiction services, and the difficulty of getting gambling help and support easily, highlighting the need to raise awareness of support mechanisms available in the UK.

Jenny Rathbone was more sceptical about the Gambling White Paper in its current form calling it ‘not fit for purpose’, and the lack of power to control gambling in the UK, in that so much of it takes place online through organisations not based in the UK. She also lamented the pervasive nature of gambling through avenues like gaming, which could normalise gambling in children from the youngest ages.

For more information about BU’s research into responsible gambling, visit: https://www.bournemouth.ac.uk/research/projects/responsible-gambling-projects

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