The UK gambling industry is facing yet another public black eye as the government goes looking for links between gambling and crime.
Thursday saw the first meeting of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling, which has been tasked by the UK government with developing an understanding of and the ability to respond to links between problem gambling and crime.
The Commission will run for three years, during which it will attempt to determine the links between crime and problem gambling, what impact these links have on communities and society and what should be done to mitigate the links. Also under the microscope will be the “driving forces influencing change and practice, including legislation, politics and the media.”
The Commission’s work will involve major public input through written submissions, consultations, seminars and media coverage, while engaging with both industry and political leaders. Once all these inputs have been examined, the Commission will make its recommendations for industry, the government and the criminal justice system.
Lord Peter Goldsmith, a former Attorney General, has been appointed as the Commission’s chair. The other 15 commissioners include Andrew Black, co-founder of betting exchange Betfair, now part of Flutter Entertainment (formerly Paddy Power Betfair), and Sarah Ramanauskas, another Betfair (and William Hill) alumnus, a senior partner at the Gambling Integrity consultancy.
The Commission’s formation comes as the gambling industry is under immense pressure to increase its funding of responsible gambling programs, while also dealing with a steady drumbeat of negative stories, including those involving individuals gambling with stolen funds. Fearless prediction: this won’t end well for the industry.