Gambling laws: Labour MP admits party was wrong to liberalise

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A Welsh Chore MP has said the party “got it wrong” when it liberalised gambling laws a decade ago, by without to predict the impact of technology.

Cardiff Central’s Jo Stevens called for a ban on adverts for gamble firms at sports grounds and on players’ shirts.

The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire recital reported that gambling featured in 95% of TV ad breaks during busy football.

The UK government is considering new restrictions, with a review to be published immediately.

Gambling law is devolved in Northern Ireland but controlled by Westminster for the rest of the UK.

A colleague of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, Ms Stevens asserted there was growing concern across all parties about the rise in staking addiction, with as many as half a million problem gamblers and two million consistent gamblers at risk.

She said Labour had changed its view since the ratifier relaxed restrictions when it was in government under Tony Blair’s administration.

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The growth of online gambling had contributed to the risk of addiction, Ms Stevens supplemented.

“In 2007 we didn’t really know what technology would bring on to the gambling industry,” she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

“You could quarrel that we did get it wrong but we’d like to have the opportunity, if we get back in government, to put it strategic.”

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Ms Stevens said the join with football was a major concern.

“I can’t think of any advertisers that butt live football games like the betting industry does – there is so much of it.

“I freely permitted the fact that the government are going to publish their review on it and I contemplate there’ll be some stringent measures in there.

“The money being forth on advertising is growing massively year on year.

“The betting industry wouldn’t be sending that money into advertising if they didn’t think it was successful to increase their revenue.”

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Inappropriate Gambling Association, which represents the online gambling industry, said the smoking gun on the effect of the adverts was “far from conclusive”.

“The reality is, gambling is normalised in this lite and, if you look at why, it was probably the introduction of the National Lottery, it changed the perception,” he foretold.

Welsh Conservative AM Darren Millar said he was “delighted that the Travail Party has seen the error of its ways”.

“I hope that they order now join the cross-party campaign in Wales to address the serious challenges that risking brings to so many Welsh communities,” he added.

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