UK MP Says Covid-19 “Absolutely Disastrous” for Gambling Addicts
by Glenn Baird - April 29, 2020
Swansea East MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm, Caroline Harris said that the coronavirus pandemic, enforced lockdown and social distancing laws have been “absolutely disastrous” for anyone battling gambling addiction.
Labour MP, Harris believes that increased time spent at home, a lack of sport on TV and boredom has resulted in increased risk for those considered most vulnerable to gambling addiction.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) announced on Monday that they would removing all gambling related advertising from TV and radio from the 7th of May until, at least, the 5th of June. Despite this, the industry was criticised for not making the decision earlier and because the move suggests that there is a problem, proving the BGC were damned regardless of what they chose to do.
Harris said: “Under normal circumstances I have huge worries about the ability of this industry to captivate, and hold hostage almost, people that it ensnares in its trap.
“And it’s just going to get worse.
“A lot of it will be boredom. Especially with a lack of sport on television, people will turn to alternative kinds of enjoyment or activity.
“In many cases they will lose everything they own, and in some really tragic cases they will lose their lives.”
Harris goes on to say that those who have been granted mortgage holidays may well find themselves with excess funds to spend on gambling.
“People who have a problem, and won’t have to pay for their mortgage, their rent, their council tax, or their credit card because they’ve explained to their lender that they’ve been furloughed or laid off work – they will have extra money and will use that to gamble,” she said.
“More and more I’m getting stories now of people who haven’t gambled for a while, but have returned to it because they’re being tempted by text messages or emails, or seeing gambling adverts on their Facebook page.
“In the pandemic times, when it is viewed by this industry as an alternative activity, it is absolutely disastrous. If they didn’t believe that they would not have done what they did yesterday and withdrawn advertising.”