There is widespread agreement that there needs to be no gambling industry influence on gambling research, prevention, treatment and on policy formation generally. Gambling is addictive and harmful. This means the government needs to make sure gambling companies do not have influence. If they do, you end up with regulation, policy and services that protect gambling companies rather than protecting the public.
Many people are critical of the way in which the organisations that work in gambling harm receive direct or indirect funding from the gambling industry. The gambling companies get to decide how much money they give and who they give the money to. This is like having alcohol or cigarette companies paying the people who go into schools to talk to young people or who help people to drink less or stop smoking. This is also the case for consumer complaints against gambling companies. At the moment, these are dealt with by organisations the gambling companies fund.
People think gambling companies should pay for harm they cause. But they should not do so in a which gives them influence. A statutory levy set by government and made up of gambling industry profits has been suggested by many people. This levy should be directed towards the prevention, treatment, and research of gambling harm. They want to see this funding administered by a new body that is completely independent.
I’d like reform change, how research is funded, how treatment is funded, how education is funded. It cannot come from the industry directly having a say whenever it comes for a statutory level which will come from the industry, but they will have no say in how that research is done, what data is collated and shared, and the government needs to step up.
I would like to see the industry take a genuine view of the existence of gambling harms and address it meaningfully and whether that’s through a levy to produce support, education, treatment where necessary when it gets to that stage. I think that could be a good thing.
Then also the education, prevention and treatment, it’s got to be a public health right and it’s got to be via a compulsory levy rather than the current voluntary levy.
I mean, research, education and treatment there needs to be like a mandatory levy so that money comes in. It’s crazy, you know. They don’t put any money back to help, really, you know.
There are industry-funded organisations to deal with complaints consumers have against gambling companies. People say an ombudsman is needed to offer an independent and impartial service to deal with complaints. People need to be able to get redress when they are harmed because gambling companies have not followed regulations. This is also important to deter gambling companies from continually breaking the rules.
There’s no ombudsman, there has to be an independent ombudsman. I have got my subject access request from some online casinos. I can very clearly see the issues with them, as can they. I’ve written to them, and I’ve said this is what you have done wrong, these are your failings against your licence conditions. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. No, we can’t do anything. Unless you want to take us to court, we won’t do anything, and this is the point. If there was an independent ombudsman, whether or not I was to get some redress or not, at least somebody independent has looked at it and I think that’s so, so important because at the moment, they can just do whatever they want. And it’s just totally unacceptable.