By Josh Thomas, Press Association Parliamentary Staff
Betting adverts should be banned from all live sports coverage, an MP has said, amid fears that young people could be at risk of suicide because of out-of-control gambling debts.
Tory MP Richard Graham (Gloucester) said gambling adverts could be banned altogether.
Speaking in the House of Commons he said: “The Gambling Commission should consider banning gambling advertising during live sport altogether.”
He added: “Will it be the tobacco of this generation? Something that once was widely advertised, then restricted, and now banned from advertising altogether.
“Will those damaged, or even killed by gambling be our legacy? Or is this our chance to get the balance right between funding sport, using technology, and having the right protections to prevent tragedy?”
In a Ten Minute Rule motion to the House, Mr Graham said there should be a levy on the revenue of gambling firms.
The Gambling (Industry Levy Review And Protections For Vulnerable People) Bill will call for the money raised to go to help research the effects of gambling addiction, funding gambling addiction clinics, and improving safeguards for children and vulnerable people.
Mr Graham said: “This Bill aims to help a different sort of vulnerability, that of the increasing amount of addiction to gambling which, in extreme circumstances, has led, and does lead, to suicide.
“There is nothing more sad than meeting a constituent, or non-constituent, who has lost a child to suicide from the pressures of gambling debts.
“Even one life destroyed by gambling is too many, and the depressing thing is that we simply do not know how many people have committed suicide from gambling. The only statistics available suggest that last year between 250 and 650 gamblers committed suicide.”
Mr Graham said the problem is “urgent” and is getting worse.
He said more than 55,000 young people under 14 are already addicted, 430,000 adults have serious gambling issues, and another two million are “at risk”.
Mr Graham said “ultimately, it was Parliament that opened the door to online gambling”, and noted that MPs have a “special responsibility” to improve the situation.
He said money raised from a levy could help fund addiction clinics.
It could also go towards helping stronger “self-exclusion”, allowing people to effectively block themselves from gambling.
He said this could be done through facial recognition technology.
He also said banks should be able to identify gambling problems.
The Gambling (Industry Levy Review And Protections For Vulnerable People) Bill will return for its second reading on May 10.
Pic by Gareth Fuller/PA Wire