Lib Dem peer calls for gambling reforms ‘as quickly as possible’

Lord Foster, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, has reiterated calls for reform to the UK’s gambling industry ahead of the Gambling Act review judgement.

As reported by BBC News, the long-time gambling reform advocate has argued that the UK government has taken long-enough – having ‘delayed and dithered’ in the Lord’s own words – to overhaul the betting industry’s regulatory oversight. 

Foster is the Chairman of Peers for Gambling Reform (PGR), which last year set out what it believes are the ideal outcomes of the 2005 Gambling Act review. The BBC has further reported that Foster will repeat his calls for reform in the Lords later this day.

These included customer affordability checks, enforced stake limits on high-risk online casino games, a mandatory RET funding levy, a ban on sports sponsorships and the classification of loot boxes as new gambling verticals.

Speaking to the BBC, the Lord and former MP for Bath remarked: “It’s worth remembering that the legislation that provides the regulation around gambling was introduced before the first smartphone was invented.

“So we’ve got a piece of legislation that simply is out of date. As many people have said, ‘it’s analogue legislation in a digital age’.

“The government have delayed and dithered bringing forward the much-needed reforms which is why we are having to really get these reforms as quickly as possible.”

In his position as Chairman of the PGR, Lord Foster has made a number of statements over the past year as the review of the Gamlbing Act continues, the White Paper on which is due for publication this spring. 

Notably, the PGR has been able to influence an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill to include a caveat relating to the betting industry – the new term required all gambling machines to be removed from military bases.

Lord Foster commented at the time that a commitment had been secured from the Ministry of Defence, but this was “a commitment which is yet to be completed”.

The long-term independent funding of NHS gambling treatment services – the NHS has committed to receiving no financial backing from the gambling industry to avoid conflicts of interest – is due to be discussed in the Lords of 28 March, with the Lord Bishop of St Albans speaking.

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