Bishop of Portsmouth leads debate on health consequences of problem gambling

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On the 1st November the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster led a short debate in the Lords about gambling addiction, numbers of people being hospitalised and the cost to the NHS. A full trancript of the debate is below:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to (1) reduce the number of problem gamblers hospitalised each year, and (2) protect vulnerable people from gambling addiction.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans has had, at very short notice, to remain in his diocese. He apologises for being unable to be here and to ask this Question. On his behalf and with his permission, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in his name on the Order Paper. He and I are grateful to those participating in this short debate, and look forward to their contributions. There is a seamless transition between the last item of business and this one. The right reverend Prelate’s interest in this subject comes from the people who have contacted him directly to explain how gambling has destroyed their lives. The Church has often campaigned on behalf of victims, and we on these Benches want to contribute towards some solutions.

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Bishop of Portsmouth responds to Government statement about Fixed Odds Betting Terminals

Portsmouth 150318On the 1st November 2018 the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth, responded to a Government statement about Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals: 

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, may I briefly make two points? The Minister has indicated that he is aware of the strong feelings in this House. He and other members of Her Majesty’s Government must have been aware, particularly on Tuesday when this matter arose at Question Time, that that concern comes from all sides of this House. He may not be aware that after playing a part on Monday, as I sat in the Commons Gallery for the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement, I used the word “disappointed” about the Chancellor’s decision to delay implementing this change. The Minister may not be aware that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury has subsequently gone further and described it as appalling.

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Bishop of St Albans criticises appalling delay in bringing in stake reduction on betting machines

On 30th of October Lord Griffiths of Burry Port asked the Government  whether they will introduce legislation to reduce the maximum bet for fixed-odds betting machines to £2; and if so, when. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: Many of us who have been speaking and campaigning on this issue were appalled yesterday to hear about the further time that it will take to implement this. These machines are predominantly found in the poorest areas. The research is quite clear: they cause huge poverty. On top of that, it is estimated that every day between one and two people commit suicide for gambling-related reasons. That is not only a huge social cost; it is a massive financial cost, far more than the £400 million relevant tax revenue that Her Majesty’s Government receive each year. Surely it is time to do this for the sake of everyone in our country. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans criticises appalling delay in bringing in stake reduction on betting machines”

Bishop of St Albans asks about link between suicides and gambling addiction

On 30th October 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from Government about suicides linked to problem gambling or gambling addiction:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the number of suicides that were linked to gambling addiction or problem gambling from 2010 till 2018. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about link between suicides and gambling addiction”

Bishop of St Albans letter in Financial Times – Reduce £100 betting machine stake without further delay

The following letter appeared in the Financial Times on 24th October 2018:

We refer to your report “ Hammond plan to lift offshore gaming tax deals tough hand for casino groups” (October 22) and write to you as members of the House of Lords from the Christian Churches and other established religious traditions, to urge the government to implement the reduction of the £100 stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) without delay. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans letter in Financial Times – Reduce £100 betting machine stake without further delay”

Bishop of St Albans suggests steps to tackle social harm caused by problem gambling

On 12th September 2018 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in a House of Lords debate tabled by Lord Broooke of Alverthorpe “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the trends in different types of addiction in England and Wales.” He focused his comments on gambling addiction and the steps needed to address the social harm being caused.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, for raising ​this issue and to the noble Lord, Lord Chadlington; I wish to address the same area, but he has done it with eloquence and passion. I will try not to repeat the arguments he made, although there may be a little bit of duplication.

Gambling addiction is now a major public health issue in the UK. We have an estimated 430,000 problem gamblers. As well as the huge financial cost to us as a nation, which falls on the taxpayer, it is affecting other areas of life. Last week, for example, Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, spoke of the huge additional burden it is putting on the NHS; some estimate that it is costing the NHS £610 million per year at a time when budgets are really stretched. But this is not about the financial costs alone. Gambling addicts have higher rates of separation and divorce than the general population, and higher levels of homelessness. Problem gambling affects all age groups, but particularly large numbers of children are either at risk or designated as problem gamblers. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans suggests steps to tackle social harm caused by problem gambling”

Bishop of St Albans calls for regulation of gambling advertising and levy on firms to to fund addiction treatment

On the 12th of September the Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the increasing prevalence of gambling advertising.” The exchanges and follow-up questions from other Members can be seen below:St Albans 2

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the increasing prevalence of gambling advertising, as reported in the Gambling Commission’s ‘Review of online gambling’, published in March.

Viscount Younger of Leckie(Con):…My Lords, the growth of online gambling has seen increased advertising for these products on TV and in social media. There are strict controls on the content and targeting of gambling advertising. A survey of evidence found that its impact on problem gambling was likely to be ​relatively small. We have set out a range of measures to strengthen protections further, including new guidance and research and tougher sanctions for breaches of the advertising codes. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for regulation of gambling advertising and levy on firms to to fund addiction treatment”