The Labour Party has published its response to a review into problem gambling and its treatment that has been undertaken over the last year.

Tom Watson MP and Jonathan Ashworth MP have spent a year consulting with gambling addiction specialists, charities, industry bodies and those suffering from gambling problems, to look at whether existing gambling regulation is adequate and what improvements need to be made to the treatment of problem gambling.

Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Secretary, said “Problem gambling is Britain’s hidden epidemic and we must treat it as a public health emergency. Current gambling regulation is not up to the job of protecting addicts and those at risk of addiction. Treatment is patchy across the country and too often patients are misdiagnosed and not treated by specialists who can spot the signs of gambling addiction.”

“Gambling companies have to take more responsibility for harm caused by their products and contribute more to research and treatment. We must also face up to the negative effect the explosion in gambling advertising has had and act accordingly. It’s what any responsible Government looking to address gambling addiction must do. The refusal of the current Government to address any of these issues is letting problem gamblers and their families down. Labour’s new policies announced today aim to build a world-class framework for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.”

Alastair Douglas, CEO TotallyMoney, said “A blanket ban on the use of credit cards would be a massive win for consumers. For regular purchases, people usually get an interest-free grace period, which doesn’t apply when credit is used to gamble. The trouble is that most people aren’t aware of how much gambling with credit truly costs them — that is, not until their bill arrives. A TotallyMoney survey of 1,000 people revealed that only 1 in 10 people are aware that gambling with credit is treated as a cash advance, which means higher-than-average interest rates apply.”

“A recent report by the Gambling Commission says up to £8.6 billion of gambling deposits are made using credit cards. Assuming an average cash transaction fee of 3.23% and an average cash advance interest rate of 28.13%, we calculated that consumers stand to save £545 million each year on fees and interest. That’s why TotallyMoney is more than happy to welcome a blanket ban on gambling with credit — not only because it would save people a lot of money, but also because it would solve the problem of people spending more than they can afford by gambling with credit.”