CARE backs Labour plans to limit online gambling

A Christian social policy charity has welcomed Labour proposals to introduce limits on how much internet gamblers can stake and spend online.

Labour's shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has said tougher rules would help tackle Britain's 'hidden epidemic' of problem gambling. Current laws were 'unfit for the digital age' he said.

Online gambling is fuelling an epidemic.Unsplash

Labour would also introduce limits to the speed of play.

He said problem gambling should be treated as a 'public health emergency'.

'Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses,' he said.

Gamblers are able to lose tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds during sessions. One addict, Kelly Field, told makers of ITV's drama Cleaning Up that online gambling 'feels like playing computer games when you're a kid'.

'You've got your high scores, your lives left. It just seems like digits, it's not really money. That's why people lose so much.'

CARE's spokesperson James Mildred said: 'We welcome these excellent proposals from the Labour Party to limit the amount internet gamblers can stake and spend online and to put a limit on the speed of play.

'Having taken a tough line on stakes on FOBTs, the same logic must now be applied online.

'We hope the UK Government engages with these new proposals from Labour because the decision to slash the maximum stake on FOBTs shows what can be achieved through cross-party effort and engagement.'

He backed Watson's characterisation of the scale of the problem , saying there is a 'growing and silent epidemic of problem gambling across the UK' which includes growing numbers of children and is 'being fuelled in large measure by online gambling'

'Every time you read a harrowing account of a punter losing vast sums of money thanks to a lack of limits online, it's a reminder and challenge to our policy makers that more needs to be done.

'Problem gambling can cause genuine social devastation and in the interests of protecting some of the most vulnerable in our society, we need to leave no stone unturned.'