|The UK government is strongly defending the proposed Gambling Bill against its detractors, describing reports that new legislation will lead to a large increase in problem gambling as ‘slipshod’. Lord Macintosh, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, was addressing GamCare’s seventh Annual Conference at Westminster on Wednesday. |
“I want to emphasise that our views have not been coloured by the publication of reports claiming that the proposals in the draft bill, as we first published it, would lead to big increases in the number of problem gamblers, he told the conference. One report suggested 200,000; another one million. To be frank, these reports were, in our view, slipshod pieces of work which involved some arbitrary assumptions but no useful fresh evidence or analysis. They are no substitute for the programme of proper research into problem gambling which is badly needed, and to which the Responsibility in Gambling Trust is committed.
“What our changes are designed to do,” he continued, “is to strengthen protections. We continue to apply a precautionary principle – that is, we should maintain controls over gambling activities unless we can be reasonably certain that to relax them will not lead to an increase in problem gambling.
“We are not prepared to take unnecessary risks in this regard. Protection of children and the vulnerable must take priority over profits for gambling businesses.”
Lord Macintosh is hoping the Bill will be passed this October and implemented by this time next year.