The focus of the DCMS’s review into gambling focuses on gaming machines and social responsibility measures. But in The Times (4 November 2017) Dominic Walsh asks why Minister Tracey Crouch has not included the National Lottery in its review. 

The latest UK gambling participation survey shows that the lottery has more problem gamblers when adjusted for people over the age of 16.

While only 0.9% of the population are at risk, it equates to 250,000 people because the volume of lottery play is so significant.  The next worse product? Scratchcards. On absolute numbers, FOBTs rank sixth with 115,000 problem gamblers, allowing for the margin of error.

Problem gambling is not a one product issue.  Research from responsible gambling bodies shows that compulsive gamblers tend to bet on multiple gambling activities. 

The UK bookmakers will argue that draconian measures against FOBTs will just move the problem to other products. 

Dominic Lawson (The Sunday Times, 5 November 2017) also pitched in on the gambling debate. The headline leaves no doubt on his view – Our shameful gambling laws are a busted flush.

Unlike most commentators he has refrained from criticising gambling operators but fully condemns the last Labour Government that introduced the Gambling Act 2005, which is too liberal in his view.

Referring to a debate in the House of Lords, Lord Chaddlington stated that half a million children, one in six of those aged 11-15 gamble at least once a week. I assume they are referring to penny arcades because any child of that age would be shown the door very quickly in a betting shop, and online the KYC would stop them registering.

With all that is going on internationally and in UK politics at the moment, for Lawson to use his column to address the topic of gambling, shows how topical the debate on gambling has become.

by Warwick Bartlett