“Gambling kills,” Kay Wadsworth of Downing Street said after sending a letter to the prime minister.
Kimberley, Kay’s daughter, took her own life at the age of 32 after taking on huge debts.
Ms Wadsworth, who sold her home to settle those debts, was one of six mothers who sent a letter to Rishi Sunak, calling for stricter regulation of the industry.
It comes as the government is finalizing its long-awaited gambling white paper, which will be published in weeks, if not days.
Ms Wadsworth told Sky News that “murder gambling” should be at the bottom of every betting ad.
“You asked me the question – how much did Kimberley spend? How much was she in debt? It didn’t matter a million pounds or a pound – she paid the ultimate price, it was her life.”
The letter to the Prime Minister states that “never have we or our children been warned or educated about the risks of gambling and how addictive it can be”.
They also asked Mr. Sunak: “Did you know that some forms of gambling have an addiction and risk rate of up to 45% – higher than heroin? Or are people with gambling disorders at increased risk of suicide? death 15 times higher than the average person. ?”
The industry rejects the idea that any form of gambling is as addictive as heroin. A Betting and Gaming Council spokesperson told Sky News: “Any suicide is a terrible tragedy and we are not in any position, nor right, to leave us alone. discuss any tragic individual cases.
“As the mental health charity MIND and others admit, the reasons behind any suicide are ‘complex and can have many different causes’.
“We are encouraged by the latest figures from the Gambling Commission which show that the number of addicted gamblers is 0.3% of the UK adult population – down from 0.4% of the UK population. last year.”
While the gaming world has moved into the technology era at breakneck speed – with casinos turning to our smartphones – the law remains icy.
Since the government announced plans to reform gambling laws in 2019, there have been was constantly delayedpartly due to turmoil within the government with five different ministers holding a gambling brief since the review began.
However, it looks like the white paper is finally about to be published – if not before Christmas then shortly after.
Campaigners from Gambling With Lives, who sent the letter, want the bill to include a statutory levy to raise money from the industry to pay for independent information, education and addiction treatment.
There is already a voluntary system in place that the industry says works well, but Gambling With Lives co-founder Liz Ritchie, who lost her son Jack to his addiction, said the system wasn’t enough. strong.
Ms Ritchie told Sky News: “We’re in this crazy situation right now where we have a voluntary deposit, meaning gambling companies can put their money wherever they want, as they please. want and the charities receiving the money are overseen only by the charity.committee.
“Why does the charity committee oversee the treatment of life-threatening health conditions?”
In March of this year, during an investigation into Jack Ritchie’s suicide, the coroner criticized “insufficient” information and treatment for the 24-year-old after he developed an addiction.
Asked about the anti-gambling ads, Ms Ritchie said: “Well, that’s not really the anti-gambling message, is it?
“It’s like ‘when it’s no longer interesting, try and stop’ or ‘take time to think’.
“You can’t take the time to think when you’re addicted to the equivalent of heroin. That’s the bottom line – it doesn’t take addiction seriously, it doesn’t take the risk of death seriously.”
The industry says it brings in £110 million a year to GambleAware. The Betting and Gaming Council said: “GambleAware is responsible for the independent distribution of research, education and treatment funds to services and charities.
“Members of the British Gambling Council have no formal or informal role with GambleAware and have no say in who receives donations or how they are spent.”
The white paper may include any new restrictions on the industry, including sponsorship and advertising restrictions, betting limits on online games, and strict affordability checks with bettors. must provide bank statements at certain thresholds.
Both the industry and campaigners know that change is coming.
At Downing Street, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, former leader of the Conservative Party, said: “The main areas we need to look at are cuts to special promotions for young people and the second is make sure those who have been damaged can be treated because it is being paid to the people who have damaged them.”
We’ll soon see if he and the mothers’ letter can convince the government of their argument.
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “We are determined to protect those most at risk of gambling-related harm, including young people. and vulnerable, and working to perfect the details of our review.
“The white paper will strengthen our regulatory framework to ensure it is relevant to the digital age.”