Carolyn Harris Re-elected Chair of All-party Parliamentary Group
The newly re-elected chair of the gambling-related harm all-party parliamentary group, Carolyn Harris, has insisted that the group are “not anti-gambling. The MP for Swansea East said the group’s efforts in 2020 would concentrate on scratchcard age restrictions, the “normalisation of gambling” and the “gamblification” of sport.
The all-party group, which disbanded due to the general election, has been reconvened and Harris is joined in the group by fellow Labour supporter Gerald Jones who is the treasurer. Ronnie Cowan and Stuart McDonald represent the Scottish National Party. The remaining members of the group are conservative members and include Lord Chadlington, Tracey Crouch.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith is the group’s highest-profile appointee; Duncan Smith is the former Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001-2003. The committee has held meetings with the government’s gambling minister and the regulator The Gambling Commission and will be releasing a report on the online gambling industry. Harris, in a statement, revealed that work had already taken place on amendments to current regulations. The MP said this work would continue, she said;
This year, the group will be undertaking evidence sessions to provide recommendations to the gambling review, which is due to be undertaken by the government ahead of the new gambling act.– Carolyn Harris, APPG chair.
Harris revealed that she was “delighted” to have been re-elected chair of the GRH APPG and revealed that the topic of gambling-related harm was something very close to her heart. The MP reiterated that the group is not anti-gambling but wanted a “safe and sustainable” industry and said the group’s primary concern is to champion better regulation
The Labour MP for Swansea East has been very active on the radio this week, making appearances on BBC Radio Four, Five Live and LBC discussing the recent decision by the government to outlaw the use of credit cards at online gambling sites. Harris said this change in law was needed and revealed that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards online are classed as problem gamblers.
Often a vocal opponent of the gambling industry, Harris said in her weekly round-up on her website that “we must do more to help protect people from the cunning and exploitative tricks used by the gambling industry”. She said the new rules would not stop people having the “odd bet here and there”, but by outlawing betting on credit, it makes it harder to run up huge debts with borrowed credit card cash.
Harris also revealed that new regulations that will be implemented would make it mandatory that all online gambling sites participate in the GamStop scheme. GamStop enables users of the software to limit or even block access to gambling websites. Currently, a large number of operators are signed up to the scheme. These include 888, BetVictor, Betway, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Betfair but doesn’t include all companies, bet365, for example, is a notable omission. The APPG believes that 100% participation by operators will make the scheme more effective.