Liberal Democrats call for “complete overhaul” of gambling sector’s approach to responsible gambling

The UK’s centrist political party, the Liberal Democrats, have waded into the ongoing debate on responsible gambling in the UK, calling for a complete overhaul of the gaming sector’s approach to tackling responsible gambling.

Most notably, it is calling for the slogan “When The Fun Stops, Stop” to be scrapped, claiming that it may be exacerbating what it calls a “gambling crisis” in the country.

This has been called by the party as doubts continue to grow as to how effective the slogan, which was launched by the industry’s self-regulatory body, Senet Group in 2015, is when it comes to contributing to encourage responsible play.

August saw researchers at the University of Warwick conduct a study which concluded that there was no statistical difference in how likely subjects were to bet when the message was shown in comparison to when it was not.

Former Member of Parliament John Leech said: “There is now enough proof that the crass ‘When The Fun Stops, Stop’ slogan is not working, and it could be exacerbating the national gambling crisis.

“It’s time to scrap the slogan because let’s be honest, by the time ‘the fun stops’, you are already dangerously addicted.”

After serving as an MP for Manchester Withington between 2010 and 2015, Leech currently sits as Leader of the Opposition for Manchester City Council, and has said that it was time for a total overhaul of player protection standards.

Leech added: “Gambling addictions wreck relationships, families and people’s physical and mental health – it’s never just the gambler who suffers.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that children’s well being is also being threatened by the gambling addictions of adults around them. These same children tune in to sporting events which are then bombarded by sinister gambling adverts ⁠— if not overtly, through sponsorship deals.”

Leech served as the Liberal Democrats’s lead for culture, media and sports during its time in government as part of a coalition with the Conservative Party between 2010 and 2015. The party has claimed that he led the campaign to reduce the maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2 – which in April this year, came into force.

He also pledged that the party would continue its work “to overhaul the gambling industry by tackling adverts, online betting which encourages ‘penny to pound gambling’ and marketing”.

This comes as the latest in a series of evidence hearings for the House of LordsSelect Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry, where they held its latest oral evidence session yesterday (8 October).

After being formed on 13 June, it issued for a call for evidence in July. The committee is examining a number of key issues which touch on the current state of the industry, along with developments in gambling habits – in particular online gaming, as well as the “gamblification” of sport.

This will also scrutinise problem gambling issues in the UK, with a view to determine whether the industry is contributing enough towards the research, education and treatment of those who are suffering from gambling harms.

“I very much welcome renewed scrutiny in the House of Lords today but both Houses have a responsibility to disregard any vested interests and work towards a bold solution,” Leech added. “This crisis will not be resolved by tapping around the edges – urgent action is needed by the government to end the suffering.”

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