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October newsletter

Hello there,

Rather a lot has been going on since I last wrote, so there’s plenty to tell you about.

Last week, we were at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool raising awareness of gambling harms and calling on Labour to adopt a robust position on gambling reform. Eight families were represented and provided a powerful presence that was impossible to ignore.

GwL families and staff at the Labour Party Conference.
There’s clearly a huge appetite for changes to our current gambling laws amongst the Labour Party and its members. We are so grateful for the overwhelming support we received from hundreds of frontbenchers, MPs, journalists, councillors, and delegates who stopped to talk to our families about the urgent need for reform, including Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, and Shadow DCMS Secretary Lucy Powell.

Families also spoke with a wide range of other Labour figures including Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband, Jess Phillips, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Mick Lynch, and Andy Burnham, together with journalists Robert Peston, Cathy Newman, and Owen Jones – the support for this issue continues to transcend political differences.

We were even awarded the “best newcomer” gong, so thanks to all of the Gambling with Lives team and special thanks to Emily Beck, our events manager, for organising such a successful event.

We will be following up with the above as well as the hundreds of people who left their contact details at our stand to ensure gambling reform is properly represented in the next Labour manifesto.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking to GwL families and staff.
Last week, it was revealed by the Guardian that clubs in the English Football League have been taking a cut of fans’ gambling losses through Sky Bet. The fact that football clubs have been exploiting their fans, including, many suffering with gambling disorder, demonstrates exactly why the government must step in and end all gambling advertising. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend reading Annie Ashton’s powerful reaction to this story.

Sticking with football, the next Big Step will take place on October 14 and 15 from Sheffield to Leeds via several football clubs in memory of Kimberly Wadsworth. The walk was due to be held last month but was postponed following the Queen’s death. If you’d like to join, please do sign up for part, or all, of the walk here.
Will Prochaska, GwL's Strategy Director, reacts to Entain's record fine.
Since my last update, the Gambling Commission has levied several fines on gambling operators, including a record £17 million fine for Entain, penalising Betway for advertising on the children’s colouring-in page on the West Ham United site, and, most recently, Betfred, for breaching social responsibility rules, including allowing a new customer to deposit £70,000 in just ten hours the day after the account was opened.

Whilst we support the Gambling Commission taking increasingly strong action, until it uses its power to revoke licences rather than issuing fines which are just treated as a “cost of business” by organisation taking billions of pounds from customers, such exploitation will continue, as will the deaths.
Liz and I with the winners of the William Ramsay Cup 2022 – congratulations!
I also wanted to let you know that this year’s William Ramsay Cup – a “friendly but competitive” football tournament set up by Jack’s friends in his memory – was a great success. We were really pleased to see so many of Jack’s friends again after a two-year enforced break because of Covid. You can read more about the day here. Thank you to everyone that took part and came to support.

Finally, we still don’t know when or whether the gambling whitepaper will be published. The Truss government has spoken out strongly against regulation in any sector as a barrier to growth in the economy. But one of the strongest campaigners for gambling regulation reform, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who was one of Liz Truss’s closest supporters during the Tory leadership contest – and not noted as an advocate for regulation – has not given up pressing the case for reform.

So we hope that gambling will be seen as one of the sectors that must be strongly regulated. It is not a driver of growth and several studies have shown that one pound spent in any other sector generates more jobs and taxes, and keeps money in the local community. Watch this space.

That's it from me this time.

Thanks for reading and, as ever, thank you for your support.

Charles Ritchie
Co-Chair of Trustees, Gambling with Lives

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