CARE campaigns for better protections for problem gamblers in the UK. According to the Gambling Commission around 0.7% of adults in the UK (about a third of a million people) are problem gamblers and a further 5.5% are identified as at risk.  Previous studies have shown higher rates of problem gambling among those who gamble online. This is no doubt because online gambling is available 24-7 and can be accessed without leaving the house or even a bedroom.
Problem gambling is profoundly destructive socially, undermining productivity in the workplace, generating significant pressure and hardship in families and can result in family breakdown and even suicide.
Between 2010 and 2015 CARE campaigned for key reforms to protect problem gamblers online through calling for a “one stop shop” system to allow people to self-exclude from online gambling services. Self-exclusion is an established system allowing a problem gambler who wants to take action to notify gambling providers not to serve them for a specific period of time. The difficulty is that the existing system requires a person to notify each individual provider – but with hundreds of gambling websites this is extremely difficult. CARE campaigned for a system that would allow a problem gambler to make one notification to the Gambling Commission which would then require all licensed providers not to provide the person with gambling services. Although the Government resisted changing the law it encouraged the Gambling Commission to set up a multi-operator self-exclusion facility which is expected to be up and running by the end of 2017. 
We also campaigned for Financial Transaction Blocking to protect problem gamblers from illegal, unlicensed online gambling opportunities. This requires financial transaction providers not to service transactions between people in the UK and online gambling web sites that do not have a UK Gambling Commission licence. In 2014 the Gambling Commission negotiated a financial transaction blocking agreement with the main financial transaction providers.
Since the last general election CARE has campaigned primarily for reform to the use of gaming machine known as “Fixed Odds Betting Terminals” or “FOBTs”. FOBTs are virtual gaming machines located in betting shops – they enable the individual to bet large sums of money – as much as £100 per spin quickly (or £50 when unauthorised) and are associated with harm including financial hardship and family and relationship breakdown.
CARE has campaigned for a reduction in the stakes on FOBT machines from £100 to £2 per spin to protect the most vulnerable. During the last parliament the All Party Parliamentary Group on FOBTs conducted an inquiry into the effects of FOBTs which concluded that there was a clear case for reducing the stakes to £2. In October 2016 the Government launched a consultation on stakes and social responsibility but the report has yet to be published. In the House of Lords, Lord Clement Jones also brought forward a Private Members Bill promoting a reduction of FOBT stakes to a maximum of £2 per spin.
Questions for Candidates
1. Will you support new legislation to reduce the stakes permitted on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2?
2. Will you hold the Government and the Gambling Commission accountable for action to assist problem gamblers including provision of one stop self-exclusion mechanisms online and financial transaction blocking?