UK gambling probe launched amid fears of money laundering and spiralling debt
04 Aug 2020

The Government has promised to review gambling legislation but patience is running out amid worries that the industry could be used for money laundering.

A boom in online and mobile gaming has seen licensed gambling grow by 57 percent in a decade – fuelling worries about the human cost.

Betting companies in Great Britain enjoyed a “yield” of £11.3billion (bets placed less winnings paid out) in 2018-19, with gambling duties of £3billion going to the Treasury.

MPs including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith have written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, urging him not to delay reform, stating: “Enough is enough.”

A House of Lords report last month warned of a “perfect storm of addictive 24/7 gambling”, claiming that one “problem gambler” takes his or her life every day and there are 55,000 problem gamblers aged 11–16.

North West Durham Conservative MP Richard Holden is concerned by a lack of transparency in the industry, saying it was a “real issue” that “because so many of these companies are based offshore even though they are registered in the UK [it] is very difficult to track some of their operations”.

Mr Holden is also worried that people may be turning to crime or falling deep into debt to deal with their gambling losses. He wants to know how many people are in prison because they started stealing to pay off debt or fund a gambling habit.

He said: “We can find out how people have been busted for drugs and things like that but it seems to be impossible to get these stats for gambling.”

Pushing for a meaningful review of the rules covering gambling, he said: “What we can’t have is a small scale review. This needs to be looking at the entirety of the 2005 Gambling Act.

“It needs to be looking at online, casinos and bookies and it needs to be considering advertising as well. It cannot be a cursory glance over it. It has to be a real deep dive into it.

By David Williamson, The Express, 1 August 2020

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