New minister responsible for gambling = new opportunity for proper research
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale arrives at DCMS greeted by Permanent Secretary Sue Owen
Although we are concerned that the new Culture Secretary has previously expressed the view that gambling1 is “a legitimate entertainment activity” with “considerable scope to reduce and simplify the current burden of regulation”, we hope that he will act on the recommendations2 of the select committee he chaired in 2012 and address (in his words) “the worrying lack of proper research to inform policy”.
There is currently a lack of proper independent research into the prevalence / incidence of gambling addiction and no risk assessment of the harm products may cause before they are made available to consumers.
This can only be made possible by imposing a statutory levy on the gambling industry to fund research and by removing the industry controlled Responsible Gambling Trust as the distributor of those funds. As Secretary of State, he has the power to implement this without further legislation.
1On 24 July 2012 – John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Gambling is now widely accepted in the UK as a legitimate entertainment activity. We took a lot of evidence in this inquiry, from all sides, and while we recognise the need to be aware of the harm caused by problem gambling, we believe that there is considerable scope to reduce and simplify the current burden of regulation and to devolve decision-making to a more local level. However, given how emotive an issue gambling is in many quarters, there is a worrying lack of proper research to inform policy: this is something that needs to be addressed.
2Report: The Gambling Act 2005: A bet worth taking? 12 July 2012
However, should one or more sectors of the gambling industry fall short in their duty to fund research, education and treatment programmes, the Government should implement a compulsory levy on those sectors.