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May newsletter

Hello there,

I hope you’re keeping well.

It’s been some time since I last wrote, so there’s lots to tell you about.
Firstly, I’m pleased to announce that we have a new website! We’ve been working hard on it behind the scenes, so please do let us know what you think. We plan to develop the website further, so watch this space.

Our new homepage.
There’s been a lot of news about gambling advertising since my last update. Last month, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that from October, sports stars and celebrities will be restricted from appearing in gambling adverts to stop them appealing to children.

While a welcome move and an important admission of the harm gambling adverts cause, these measures do not go far enough. Our position on advertising remains unchanged: we are calling on the government to stop the normalisation of high-risk gambling by ending all gambling advertising.

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you read Annie Ashton’s piece in The Guardian on this, as well as our James Grimes speaking to the BBC below.
James Grimes makes the case for a full ban on gambling advertising.
Also last month, research submitted to the government as part of the Gambling Act review was revealed to be “flawed”, “misleading” and “undertaken to draw a pre-determined conclusion”. The discredited research, commissioned by the English Football League which is sponsored by Sky Bet, suggested that there is “no evidence” gambling sponsorship influences gambling participation. Then why, you may ask, are they spending so much money on it?

This research is one of the clearest examples of the influence that funding has on research and is all the more shameful since it was undertaken by a reputable British university. We must have a statutory levy, administered by an independent levy board, to fund independent research, education and treatment.

There have been two debates in Parliament since I last wrote. At the end of March our MP, Paul Blomfield, held an adjournment debate on the Gambling Act review, following the coroner’s findings on Jack’s death. Our sincere thanks to Paul, who spoke passionately, for securing the debate. The response from the Gambling Minister, Chris Philp, was positive and Ronnie Cowan MP also made a significant contribution. You can watch the full debate here or the short clip below.
Paul Blomfield MP speaks at the adjournment debate in March.

The following week, members of the APPG on Gambling-Related Harm spoke powerfully about the need for reform at a Westminster Hall debate. Several MPs also spoke in defence of the gambling industry, including Craig Whittaker MP, who failed to declare gifts worth more than £3,000 from a gambling operator. This video shows how conspicuous the gambling industry was at that debate, a point highlighted by Carolyn Harris and Ronnie Cowan.

A quick update on The Big Step: last month, 20 clubs wrote to the government urging them to ban all gambling adverts in football. In the letter, club executives rejected the industry narrative that clubs need gambling advertising revenue to survive.

The 20 clubs that wrote to the government.
And just an interesting aside on football: despite the prevalence of gambling sponsorship in both the Premier League and Championship, the top six clubs in both divisions do NOT have a gambling company on their shirt fronts. Coupled with the automatic promotion of the pioneering Forest Green Rovers from League Two: I leave you to draw your own conclusions!

In the coming weeks, we are expecting a response from the Government on the Prevention of Future Deaths report that was issued following the conclusion of Jack’s inquest, and of course, the publication of the long-awaited Gambling Act review whitepaper, expected in June. I will update on both in due course.

Until then, thank you for your support.

Charles Ritchie
Co-Chair of Trustees, Gambling with Lives

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