Problem gambling has been ‘overlooked and underfunded for too long’. That was the message delivered by Kate Lampard CBE, Chair of GambleAware, to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
As gambling-related harm is linked to all forms of gambling, not just FOBTs, Lampard set out GambleAware’s strategy to fund further research, education and treatment services for individuals and their families.
In the final week of the Government’s call for evidence for its gambling policy review, Lampard also warned that if policy makers were hoping for clear answers to the FOBT debate, they would be left disappointed.
Speaking alongside Sir Christopher Kelly, Chair of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB), Ms Lampard and GambleAware’s Chief Executive, Marc Etches, guided the committee through an extensive collection of research commissioned by the charity over the past three years.
They also described the relationship between the two organisations, with RGSB determining the research agenda, and GambleAware’s independent Research Committee, chaired by Professor Jo Wolff of Oxford University, then commissioning projects and publishing their reports.
Lampard said to the APPG: “We are very happy to come before you to offer what insights we can from the research, education and treatment work that GambleAware does, but we would caution that the issues you are looking at are complicated.
“The research does not provide any clear answers to the understandable concerns that you and the public have about FOBTs. There are many, complicated issues surrounding FOBTs, and they are matters on which ultimately you and other policy makers are going to have to exercise your best judgment.”
Marc Etches said: “All of us at GambleAware are passionate about what we do. In the last three years, we have commissioned a significant body of independent, high quality research, much of which is ground-breaking, that has contributed substantially to the international body of knowledge.
“Specifically, in relation to the research that we did around machines in bookmakers, the focus was to endeavour to identify whether it was possible to identify the difference between harmful and non-harmful play, as a basis on which one might then ensure that minimisation of gambling related harm might be effective.
“We set about to commission quite a wide body piece of research that I think has brought forward a great deal of understanding about player behaviour that can now, I hope, inform the discussions that you will have about, for example, stakes.”