The website was set up in 2012 at a time when there was scarcely any organisation speaking critically on the subject of gambling independently of Government or the gambling providing industry. Things have changed since then. Around the world voices are being raised expressing alarm at how commercially provided gambling has been allowed to grow and flourish. In Britain there are signs that the tide may be turning. Think tanks, campaign groups, groups from both Houses of Parliament, public health bodies, and the media, have all addressed the issues. The general public, when surveyed, has been found to be negative about the growth of gambling. All are worried about the possibility of increasing addiction to gambling, the intrusiveness of gambling advertising and the way gambling seems to be becoming normal. The thing that all express greatest concern about is the effect on the country’s children and young people.

There is now support for reform across the political spectrum. The Conservative Government was eventually persuaded, against industry advice, to make a substantial reduction to the maximum stake on the fixed odds betting terminals. The Labour Party has called for more sweeping changes and for a completely new Gambling Act to replace the 2005 Act which rendered Britain one of Europe’s most liberal gambling regimes. The era of unrestrained gambling liberalisation in Britain may be coming to an end.

But there is a long way to go still. With the help of website development and maintenance firm West5Web, Gambling Watch UK is being relaunched. It will continue to work with others to press for change. What is needed now is a fundamental rethinking of our basic approach to gambling regulation. That would mean a comprehensive new Gambling Act. The 2005 Act started from the premise that gambling is an ordinary entertainment product like any other and that Britain should be a gambling industry world leader. Our legislation needs to start from a different place: gambling is no ordinary commodity, it is dangerous, a matter of public health, and government should put its duty of care to its citizens before all other considerations. We then need a proper National Strategy for Gambling produced by Government with the Health Ministry taking a leading role. The main source of research funds remains voluntary donations by the gambling industry and a way must be found to make decisions about the use of those funds properly independent of the industry. We need Government to face up to its responsibility and have a serious rethink about the proper place of gambling in national life.

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We believe there is overwhelming support for the view that there are already too many opportunities for gambling and that this is bad for individual, family and community health, but our voices need to be heard if we are to influence public policy..

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