UK Parliament rejects online gambling addiction measure

Published 28 November 2013  |  
PA

The UK Parliament this week narrowly rejected a measure that would more effectively seek to help online gamblers deal with their addictions.

The so called 'one stop shop' measure, more often known as 'self exclusion' was listed as an amendment to the Gambling Bill going through Parliament at the present time. However, during its report stage, the measure was defeated by 283 votes to 223.

'One stop shop' measures are those used by problem gamblers to ensure that they do not spend more money in gambling establishments when they have made a commitment not to do so.

This works by the gambler telling one establishment not to accept him and that establishment in turn telling all the others to do the same. While this is a solution that is very effective in the physical world, in the digital world it is less often employed.

Nola Leach, Chief Executive of Christian Action Research and Education, who was invited to take part in the debate said: "Accessing gambling on the internet is incredibly easy.

"We want to help online problem gamblers to protect themselves from being drawn into compulsive playing online by establishing a national self-exclusion mechanism for online gambling.

"The current system means that to protect themselves a problem gambler has to opt-out of every single gambling website individually, an almost impossible task.

"The one-stop shop instead means that someone can make one decision to bar themselves from all gambling websites in one go."

The measure failed to gain ground among MPs largely because of the difficulties involved in implementation.

The conclusions of Dr Sally Gainsbury, author of 'Internet Gambling: Current Research Findings and Implications', were cited during the debate, specifically her view that a significant limitation of self-exclusion is "the lack of collaboration between different online gambling sites and venues, so that excluded individuals may find it easy to gamble at another site or venue".

MPs noted that such a system would only work on UK-based websites, limiting the effectiveness of national legislation to control the access of online gamblers.

Jim Shannon, the Northern Ireland Assembly MP for Strangford said: "The problem gambler could self-exclude from five online gambling sites that he can access from his or her bedroom, but could still have access to hundreds of other sites from that bedroom.

"It would be physically impossible for the online gambler to self-exclude from all online gambling opportunities that are accessible to him in his bedroom."

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