We have to balance the legitimate fun and excitement of people backing horses at Cheltenham with avoiding stoking the fires of dangerous addiction by vulnerable gamblers. Anyone who has met the families of those who’ve lost everything and in some cases committed suicide from gambling debts will know how critical protection for the vulnerable is.
That’s why we need to do more to protect people – for example banning the use of credit cards for gambling - and funding more and thorough research: which I think is best done by a compulsory levy of company gross profits. A levy could therefore generate significant revenue both to fund a major new independent research initiative and more gambling clinics, like those in London and Leeds.
Regulators and government in my view need to take the first step of a new gambling levy and continue to work on both prevention and cure issues. This problem is not going to disappear magically and we need action on the 2005 Gambling Act now. I believe Parliament will support such measures because the industry has shown time and time again it is not moving fast enough to being either more responsible or more sustainable – and society will not accept the growth in damaged lives, the human and financial costs (especially on the NHS) that come from not getting this right.