(Title Image: BBC Wales)
Time for another short debate as it’s been a while. This time it was on the subject of problem gambling – a topic that’s been brought up several times by AMs and comes into focus as Christmas approaches with families likely to be under more financial strain than usual.
See also: State of Wales – Vice Nation: Gambling
Proponent: Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West)
Subject: “Wales’s invisible problem – the social impact of gambling.”
- The Children’s Society estimate that 43% of families will borrow money to pay for Christmas.
- It’s now widely accepted that problem gambling can become a disorder like drug/alcohol addiction, while fixed-odds betting terminals are described as “the crack cocaine of gambling”.
- Gambling debts are sometimes built up secretly without the family’s knowledge.
- A University of South Wales report (pdf) has provided a snap-shot of problem gambling in Wales which has previously endured a lack of data. It revealed problem gambling is much higher than previously thought.
- There’s a “worrying density” of betting shops and amusement arcades on Welsh high streets.
- Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd): The gambling industry is now lobbying in the same manner as the tobacco industry once did/does.
- Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan): Concerned about how aggressive advertising might affect older age groups as they go online in greater numbers.
Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth)
- Prevalence of problem gambling is relatively low but the health and social impacts are significant.
- Online gambling is a particular concern because of its easy access with fewer restrictions.
- From next year Wales will have devolved powers over licensing new fixed-odds betting machines which offer stakes of £10 or more; these limits in powers are disappointing.
- The UK Government are consulting on whether to cut fixed-odds betting stakes to £2; the Welsh Government are considering changing planning rules to prevent over-concentration of betting shops.
- Problem gambling will be included in the next Chief Medical Officer’s annual report.
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