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Problem Gambling

Volume 643: debated on Thursday 21 June 2018

We take problem gambling very seriously and have taken decisive action on fixed odds betting terminals. We are determined to tackle that social blight and have decided to cut the maximum stake to £2.

I thank the Secretary of State for his response and for what he has done in this area. Does he agree that online gambling is in many ways more dangerous than gambling in bookies? What steps will he take to tackle that danger?

In our response to the consultation, we set out significant further steps to strengthen the safeguards for online gambling. The Gambling Commission already has a whole series of requirements in that area. There is more to do, and we are getting on with it.

As the Secretary of State knows, I am strongly supportive of the decision taken on FOBTs, but problem gambling is an issue in my constituency, especially among the vulnerable. What more can the Department do to push gambling companies to better support addicts?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s support and for that of many Members across the House for the action we are taking on problem gambling. Clearly it is important to ensure that we tackle online issues as well. That is complicated by the nature of the technology, but the Gambling Commission is working hard to ensure that the right protections are in place.

I once again congratulate the Secretary of State on introducing the £2 maximum stake for FOBTs. Will he use his considerable persuasive powers to talk to his colleagues at the Treasury and get that implemented by April 2019, and not a day later?

Of course, this needs to go through Parliament, and there is a process that needs to be followed. In order to cover any negative impact on the public finances, the change needs to be linked to an increase in remote gaming duty, paid for by online gaming operators at the relevant Budget. There are steps that need to be taken, but the hon. Gentleman knows just how enthusiastic I am to get this in place.

While I welcome the lowering of the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals, has the Secretary of State considered a reduction in the number of betting advertisements shown during football matches, which are watched by a massive number of impressible young men and women?

That issue has been raised, and we have looked at it. Working with the Gambling Commission, we want to ensure that we get the rules in this space right.

When is the Secretary of State going to ban 16-year-olds from playing the national lottery and buying scratchcards on the national lottery, or is he more worried about who is winning the money than who is losing the money?

We put that issue into the review, and I am sure that my hon. Friend’s consideration will be taken into account, along with others.