Gambling in the Digital Age

In response to the UK government’s Gambling White Paper, our Founder and CEO, Michael Ishmail MSc, commented:

I am delighted to see that the government is taking action to address the issue of gambling addiction through its recent white paper. Through my work in this sector, I am intimately aware of the harmful consequences of gambling addiction, and I witness first-hand the harm it causes to individuals and their families.

While I commend the government’s efforts in addressing this important issue, I gently encourage further action to help those struggling with problem gambling. The white paper includes various steps to empower gamblers, such as account-level protections and measures to make online products safer by design. I believe that more can be done, especially in areas of prevention, education, and support for those who are suffering.

After many years working in the industry, my perspective on addiction is this:

“Every addiction, substance and process is a gamble or risk. People see them as different, but you’re always rolling the dice.”

This, for me, underscores the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to address all aspects of addiction, including gambling.

I am particularly encouraged by the proposed creation of a gambling ombudsman and the introduction of a statutory levy paid by operators. These initiatives will provide additional support and resources for individuals affected by gambling addiction. However, I also urge the government to consider increasing funding for education and prevention programmes, as well as providing more support for organisations that work tirelessly to help individuals overcome their addictions.

The focus on children and young adults in the white paper is commendable, as it highlights the need to protect these vulnerable groups from the potential harms of gambling. I believe that further strengthening age verification processes, along with enhanced regulations for young adults, will contribute significantly to reducing gambling-related harm among these age groups.

As for the land-based gambling proposals, I understand that the government seeks to strike a balance between safeguarding vulnerable individuals and maintaining the industry’s viability. I encourage the government to closely monitor the impact of these changes on problem gambling rates and be prepared to take further action if necessary.

In conclusion, I, along with many in this sector, appreciate the government’s steps in addressing gambling addiction through their white paper. However, I encourage the government to further strengthen its efforts, particularly in prevention, education, and support services. Studies have shown that problem gamblers are at a 15 times higher risk of suicide than the rest of the population. By working together, we can ensure that those affected by gambling addiction receive the help they need and deserve, create a safer future for everyone, and drastically reduce the immense harm it causes.

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