A ban on using credit cards for online gambling and a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment are among the recommendations submitted as part of a government review of gambling regulation. A consultation by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) addressed calls to introduce concrete measures to tackle the addiction problems faced by estimated 430,000 problem gamblers.

A decision on the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has attracted attention from lobbyists and campaigners, with the government GambleAware and Citizens Advice have both also called for a mandatory levy to better fund treatment. The charity said it had been able to treat just 8,800 people last year, 2% of the estimated 430,000 people in the UK with a gambling problem.

It also listed a series of measures it said would help tackle addiction, including a ban on using credit cards to bet online, which it said “significantly increases the risk gamblers will gamble more than they can afford”.

Marc Etches Chief Executive at Responsible Gambling Trust said:“With 430,000 problem gamblers and a further 2 million adults at risk of developing a problem, GambleAware is concerned about the impact this hidden addiction has on people’s lives.”

Citizens Advice’s latest research into the causes and impact of problem gambling titled “Out of luck” which looks at the life-changing effects problem gambling can have, from increased debt to family breakdown, estimates that between 2.5 to 4.3 million people in Britain may be affected by gambling-related harm. The report shows that more than three-quarters of gamblers and more than two in five affected others had built up debt as a result of gambling. The findings also reveal that as a result of a family member’s gambling, over a third of families with children affected could not afford essential costs such as food, rent and household bills.

Citizens Advice makes a number of recommendations to government, the gambling industry and banks and creditors, including that banks and creditors should provide training to their staff so that they feel comfortable talking to their customers about gambling addiction. The research built upon existing insight from the Citizens Advice Service and included a survey of more than 1,500 people affected by gambling.

Commenting on the report Joanna Elson OBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust said “Today’s report from Citizens Advice provides a useful and important insight into the impact problem gambling can have on families, relationships, and people’s finances and mental health. Through what we hear at National Debtline we are all too aware of the challenges households affected by gambling-related problems face in terms of debt, housing and financial issues.

“In recent years we have trained more than 160 creditor organisations to improve their work in identifying and supporting customers in vulnerable situations – and we are increasingly working with organisations on supporting customers with gambling and other addictions, in particular. Training frontline staff to identify and support customers is crucial in preventing these problems from escalating further and in addressing some of the challenges outlined in the research.”

The Money Advice Trust provides vulnerability training by providing creditor staff with practical support and tools to help customers in vulnerable situations. The training covers themes including gambling, alcohol and substance addictions.

Citizens Advice’s report can be downloaded here


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