MP takes gambling fight to parliament

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04 Mar 2016

A bereaved mother joined forces with Rosie to take her fight to help out-of-control gamblers to the House of Commons.
Rosie organised a meeting with MPs from across the political spectrum and officials from the gambling industry in order to increase support for their campaign.
Anne Evans, who is spearheading the campaign, is calling for gambling to be treated in the same way as a drug or alcohol problem and hopes it will come to be legally defined as an addiction.
Her son, Alan Lockhart, was 40 when he took his own life in June 2010 after gambling away £200,000.
He had battled with his addiction since he was a teenager.
Anne has already won the backing of all of Doncaster's GP surgeries and chemists, who are putting up posters and leaflets to raise awareness of the issues around problem gambling, which include contact details for organisations giving help and support.

The campaign is being run in conjunction with the director of public health in Doncaster, Rupert Suckling, and the Senet Group – an independent group that promotes responsible gambling standards.

But now Anne, with Dame Rosie’s help, has taken the fight to Westminster.

They met MPs and officials from the gambling industry on Tuesday (March 1) and discussed a broad range of measures to help tackle problem gambling including limiting stakes over £50, self-exclusion schemes, banning gaming machine advertising in shop windows, and the recently launched Player Awareness System (PAS), which uses technology to assess identified customers’ behaviour and has been welcomed by charities as a ‘powerful step’ in helping problem gamblers.

The also meeting called for more advertising on responsible gambling around major sporting events.

Rosie said: “It’s vital that people who are struggling with gambling addiction, or debts caused by gambling, are offered the help and the support they need to tackle the problem, which is why I’m supporting Anne Evans and the work she is doing alongside the Senet Group and other organisations.

“I welcome the ABB and industry’s ongoing commitment to responsible gambling and the measures that they are introducing and look forward to following up on today’s constructive meeting in six months’ time when we can assess further progress made.”
Anne, of Woodfield Plantation, said: “It is time the government realised the -devastating effect gambling has. It’s ¬mentally crippling for the addict and can cause depression and mental health issues. I want to see it treated in the same way substance addictions are, where people have access to help.”

The Health Survey for England 2013 estimates 1,000 and 1,200 people in Doncaster ‘might be classed as having problem gambling’.

Malcolm George, CEO of the ABB said: “The ABB are committed to work with politicians, charities, our regulator, campaigners and the Government to help develop some of the highest gambling standards in the world that ensure betting shops will remain one of the safest places to bet.”

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, who attended the meeting, said: “It’s vitally important that discussions on responsible gambling involving the industry, charities and politicians take place. Today’s debate has challenged the industry and all stakeholders to ensure that betting shop customers can continue to gamble safely while steps are taken to help those most vulnerable to problem gambling.”


Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central
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