Stacked deck - Gambling regulation not effective or efficient says Public Accounts Committee

Stacked deck - Gambling regulation not effective or efficient says Public Accounts Committee
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The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says that betting companies should be named and shamed for poor behaviour.

In a report published Sunday 28 June 2020, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says the Gambling Commission is not proactively influencing gambling operators to improve protections, and consistently lags behind moves in the gambling industry. Where gambling operators fail to act responsibly, consumers do not have the same rights to redress as in other sectors.

It says the Department and Commission together have “failed to adequately protect consumers” at a time of considerable change in the sector, as gambling increasingly moves online and new games become popular. The collection of evidence has been patchy and behind the curve as the nature of gambling has changed, and the Commission has failed to develop responses even where it has identified potential problems, such as during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The temporary ban on gambling ads during lockdown has now been lifted – in its response to the report the Commission should provide an update on gambling patterns and industry behaviour during Covid-19, and any regulatory action it has taken to tackle the industry.

The Committee calls for a new, published league table of gambling operators’ behaviour towards their customers, naming and shaming poor performers. It says the Department must urgently begin its long-planned review of the Gambling Act, setting out a timetable within three months of this report.

James Wild MP for North West Norfolk, Public Accounts Committee member and lead member on the Inquiry said: “This report shows that the deck is stacked against vulnerable people being treated fairly. Glaring gaps in the regulatory system mean individuals cannot get redress if gambling operators fail to meet social responsibility obligations that are meant to protect problem gamblers. Frankly the regulator is not at the races – it works at a glacial pace, has no targets to reduce levels of harm, and is behind the curve on online gaming. I know from my constituents the devastating impact of problem gambling on people’s mental health, families, relationships, and lives. It is essential that the government’s review of the Gambling Act leads to urgent changes and a more effective regime.”

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