Survivors of gambling addiction welcome government reform proposals

The reform plans announced by the government are a step in the right direction, gambling addiction survivors said.

The proposals have been welcomed, including a mandatory levy for gambling operators to help fund treatment services and research, new wagering limits for online slot games and player protection controls for protect those most at risk of harm.

Announcing the plans on Thursday, culture secretary Lucy Frazer said the government was “bringing our pre-smartphone regulations into the present day with a white paper on gambling for the digital age”.

David Quinti managed to overcome his gambling addiction (David Quinti/PA)

David Quinti managed to overcome his gambling addiction (David Quinti/PA)

Of the plans, David Quinti, who hasn’t played for eight years, said: “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Mr Quinti, 48, from Stockport in Greater Manchester, had struggled with gambling for a decade and lost around £30,000.

He started out by betting on soccer matches, but the problem escalated when he started gambling online.

But after his then eight-year-old son saw him gambling on an iPad at home one day and asked him to stop, he sought help and is now a GambleAware board member and GamCare ambassador. .

He said he hoped that in the future, gambling advertising could be addressed in terms of making people aware of whether they are playing it safe or need help.

He said: “Advertising draws people in with color, opportunity and excitement.

“I don’t think there is a need for a total ban, but ads need to be more safety-oriented. At the moment it looks like it’s a checkbox.

Colin Walsh also welcomed the maximum stakes and statutory levy proposals which, according to Ms Frazer, would “turn the tables on problem gambling, one which sees gambling companies being forced to fund research, education and more innovative treatments.

Mr Walsh, who said he has been gambling at levels that would have been considered problematic for nearly 20 years and has been problem-free for a decade, said he believed advertising of gambling in sport would one day be banned.

Although not included in the white paper, the 45-year-old from Sheffield, who is now lived experience manager at GamCare, said there was recognition of the harm it can cause.

He said: “I am sure that in my lifetime, advertising of gambling in sports will not be allowed. I think it could go further, but at the same time any steps to reduce it are really acknowledgment of the harm done and steps in the right direction.

“I’m old enough to look back and remember tobacco advertising in sports, so there’s a precedent.

“I think we’ll look back and think ‘we can’t believe this was allowed to happen.’ I think this is the direction things are going.

Mr Walsh, who placed more than 9,000 bets with one operator in his last month of gambling, staking nearly £1million, added that he wanted to make sure the message was clear that people who have problem gambling gambling can get help and recover.

He said, “Support is out there and people can get better, and I don’t think we hear enough about it.”

The National Gambling Helpline, run by GamCare, received the most hits for any month on record in March, with advisers citing cost of living impact on callers.

In total, 3,996 calls and online chats were made during the month, an increase of 23% over the same period last year.

Anyone in need of help can call free of charge on 0808 8020 133 or visit the website.

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