On 17th May 2018 Lord Ashton of Hyde repeated a statement made in the House of Commons by the Culture Secretary, about the Government’s new policy on gaming machines and social responsibility. The Bishop warmly welcomed the news that maximum stakes on fixed-odds betting machines would be reduced from £100 to £2:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too welcome this Statement, which represents a significant progress in our efforts to bring about a sensible and ordered scheme of gambling regulation in this country. I also pay tribute to the Minister in this House, to the Minister in the other place, to the Secretary of State and to the Prime Minister for their moral courage in the face of a lot of opposition in making this excellent decision, not least to reduce the stakes for FOBTs down to £2.
I note that the report includes a whole section on gambling advertising. Many Members, in both Houses, are deeply concerned about the normalisation of gambling at a very formative time for children, not least because of the wall-to-wall adverts that are shown via various forms of media but especially online, and because of the development of games which in themselves are not gambling but are designed to encourage people to undertake these sorts of activities and normalise them for later in life. Could the noble Lord tell us a little more about how that might be addressed and when some of this will be implemented?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate, who has led on this subject and has, I know, spent a lot of time worrying about this and making positive suggestions. I am glad he is glad about this announcement.
Of course we understand the issues around children and advertising, and that is why gambling advertisements must not be targeted at children. They must not be shown around children’s programmes or include anything that appeals particularly to children or young people or that exploits them. Tougher guidance is being published on what that means by the Committee of Advertising Practice. As we set out in the consultation, the number of TV gambling advertisements seen by children has been going down each year since 2013. However, we are not complacent, and that is why we are setting out a package of measures on advertising today.
We understand the right reverend Prelate’s point that advertising could normalise gambling for children, and that is why the strict controls on children’s advertising apply. As far as games and skins and things like that are concerned, the Advertising Standards Authority is aware and the Gambling Commission has cracked down hard on operators that try to get round the rules by using games and non-monetary prizes in games online.