Citizens Advice calls for mandatory levy on gambling companies to fund support
Citizens Advice is calling on the government to take advantage of unused powers to require betting companies to pay more towards tackling gambling-related harm, instead of allowing the industry to decide how much they contribute.
In a report released today, the national charity reveals the knock-on effects of problem gambling. It finds that up to 4.3 million family members, friends and work colleagues of the estimated 430,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain often suffer serious issues such as problem debt and relationship breakdown.
Citizens Advice wants the government to ensure firms contribute more to addressing the issues caused by problem gambling by enforcing section 123 of the Gambling Act, which gives the Secretary of State the power to set how much gambling companies must pay.
The current voluntary agreement between betting companies and the Gambling Commission - in which firms decide on how much they contribute to support people struggling with the effects of gambling - could potentially leave a funding shortfall.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said:
“While we recognise that gambling companies contribute towards support services, the voluntary agreement currently in place is not sufficient.
“Our research shows the life-changing effects problem gambling can have on the families, friends and work colleagues of the gambler - from increased debt to family breakdown.
“We’re calling on the government to use the powers it already has to compel the gambling industry to contribute enough money to fund research, education and support for the treatment of all those affected by problem gambling.”
The report - Out of Luck - found:
More than a third of households with children where there was a problem gambler experienced family breakdown;
Almost one in five people who had a problem gambler in their life said there were times they could not afford food;
More than half of people affected by a problem gambler suffered mental ill health as a result their behaviour.
It found the harm created by gambling includes detrimental effect on health, increased debt, housing and employment issues, family and relationship problems and social exclusion.
The report also looks at the causes of problem gambling and the effectiveness of certain remedies, such as self exclusion.
Citizens Advice is using the evidence published in the report to respond to the government consultation on gambling that is looking at the social responsibility of betting firms and the use of fixed-odds betting terminals.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
- To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
- You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
- Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
- Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.