On 17th October 2019 the Gambling Act 2005 (Amendment) Bill [HL] received its First Reading in the House of Lords. The Bill was introduced by the Bishop of Coventry, on behalf of its sponsor the Bishop of St Albans. First Reading is a formality and no debate was held.
On 6th August 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from Government, in reply to two questions about funding for problem gambling clinics:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: (i) HL17484 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 17 July (HL16963 and HL16964), what was the budget of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust for funding the NHS Northern Gambling Clinic; and what is the projected cost of that clinic in (1) 2020, (2) 2021, and (3) 2022.
(ii) HL17485 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford on 17 July (HL16963 and HL16964), what was the budget of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust for funding the National Problem Gambling Clinic; and what is the projected cost of that clinic in (1) 2020, (2) 2021, and (3) 2022.
On 22nd July 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question, from Gregory Campbell MP, regarding problem gambling:
Gregory Campbell (DUP): 278399 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to tackle problem gambling.
On 18th July 2019 Lord Addington (Lib Dem) asked the Government “what plans they have to ensure that lottery providers who operate on a national basis, other than the National Lottery, spend a minimum of 25 per cent of their profits on the funding of good causes, which are currently funded by the National Lottery”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, research shows that not all lotteries that operate on a national scale make it clear that they are neither charities nor not-for-profit organisations. People often do not realise that. Does the Minister agree that making it mandatory to declare on each ticket the minimum percentage of each pound spent on charity, for both draw-based and instant-win games, would ensure that users really understand just where their money is going?
On 16th July 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer from the Government, about the Bet Regret campaign:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: HL16962 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 2 July (HL Deb, col 1346), on what evidence they based their claim that the Bet Regret campaign is showing promising results.
On 15th July 2019 the Bishop of Newcastle moved an amendment on behalf of the Bishop of St Albans, to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill: “(f) delivering regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom in regard to gambling”. The amendment was accepted by Government and agreed by the House without a vote.
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans has been unavoidably detained in his diocese, so has asked me to speak to his amendment. This is a probing amendment attempting to address an issue that causes regulatory anomalies, in that Northern Ireland does not have the same standards for gambling as Great Britain. This amendment is an opportunity for the Government to enable greater harmony in gambling regulation and legislation. The existing lack of alignment has appeared piecemeal in nature since the Northern Ireland Act 1998, and has led to confusing quirks. For brevity’s sake, I will quickly outline the differences the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans has identified as being of difficulty to the people of Northern Ireland, who do not have a well-regulated gambling industry with safeguards for all.
Northern Ireland does not use the Gambling Act 2005. Instead, it relies on the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans has suggested that this outmoded basis for a modern gambling industry has led to a lack of safeguards. As the Department for Communities writes on its website, one in 50 Northern Irish adults has a gambling-related problem, which is,
“three times higher than in GB”.
On 2nd July 2019 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport repeated a Government Statement about industry support for those affected by problem gambling. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I welcome this announcement today, but I notice from a press release from the companies that they see it as a health issue:
“The key priority will be to quadruple the number of those accessing treatment from 2.5% to 10%”.
After four years, 90% of those with gambling addiction problems will still be unable to access help. Surely that cannot be acceptable. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans – gambling industry is privatising profits and nationalising cost of problem gambling”