Sheffield campaigners criticise Government gambling reforms

A Sheffield campaigner has said the Government hasn’t been “heavy-handed enough” with their new restrictions on gambling.

It comes after a raft of changes were announced, including lowering the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals and a two-year advertising campaign funded by gambling companies in partnership with GambleAware and other organisations.

Adam Bradford, from Sheffield, has been campaigning for tighter regulation since his father, David, was jailed in 2014 for stealing £50,000 from his employers to fund his addiction.

The family was bankrupted and left in debt of around £500,000 after David took out credit cards, payday loans and mortgaging the family homes.

The pair started a petition in favour of stricter regulation and handed it to David Cameron when he was Prime Minister, gaining his support.

They also work with NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to educate GPs and health professionals to better spot the signs of gambling addiction.

The son said: “Whilst we welcome a reduction in the stakes that can be bet on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, the Government has not been heavy handed enough.

“The only possible considerations the industry can be taking in response now is about the protection of their profits.

“Aside from this, the report is too narrow in focus. A campaign run by the industry to highlight problem gambling is not enough to prevent those who are vulnerable to addiction from being captured by gambling related problems.

“Online gambling has been tackled in a measly way by this report, being left with open to exploitation after FOBTs take a hit. The problem of gambling addiction will now simply move online, with 50% of all gambling now taking place online.

“The Government also believes the dramatic rise in advertising has little effect on problem gambling. They have arbritrarily assessed current risk rather than probability of future risk.

“Young people are being targeted by the industry’s sleasy tactics such as social media adverts and heavy sponsorship of sports games.

“The report needs to consider measures to limit the amount spent on online gambling and place a ban on all gambling adverts before the watershed.”

According to Ofcom, the amount of gambling adverts being broadcast has risen by 600% since gambling was deregulated under Labour in 2005.

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