Banks ‘must do more’ for problem gamblers

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A UK think tank led by a leading politician feels that banks should be compelled to stop problem gamblers from spending more than they can afford.

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith is heading up the Centre for Social Justice, a team from which is asking for new powers to order betting operators to reduce the speed with which gamblers can play. Alternatively, they should cut the gamblers’ stakes or simply refuse more bets for a period of time.

The CSJ suggests that alerts can be activated by a government ombudsman based upon data-tracking of gamblers at risk. Banks would have a duty of care to share financial information with a new organisation, rather like a credit-rating agency, that would quantify the level of risk faced by a gambler.

The organisation would then advise the ombudsman, who would inform betting companies, who would then have to take action.

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Sir Ian Duncan Smith is backing the report that warns that technology makes gambling more accessible and permits betting firms to influence behaviour on an unprecedented scale.

Sir Iain is quoted in the UK national press as saying: “The gambling industry now poses a very real threat to our communities and the time has come to get a hold on this pernicious addiction which has such a strong connection to social problems, including drug and alcohol addiction, debut, family breakdown and crime.”

He said that the 2005 Gambling Act has ushered in “the disastrous consequences of an under-regulated and enormously powerful industry that has caused many to tall into a spiral of debt and mental and emotional turmoil, sometimes to tragic effect.”

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