SMF fringe event on gambling reform at the Conservative Party Conference 2023

What next for Gambling Reform?

Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones was invited to join a panel discussion on where the existing voluntary system of funding of harm reduction falls short, what a statutory gambling levy would look like, if harmful parts of the industry would pay more and what the role of the Department of Health and NHS would be in leading change.

Panel Discussion with audience Q&A

Rob Davies, Business & Investigations Reporter, The Guardian (Chair)
Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, Founder & Director National Problem Gambling Clinic
Richard Graham MP, Gambling Harms APPG
Ed West, Writer
Clare Wyllie, Research Director – Tackling Gambling Stigma

There has been a growing recognition in recent times that the gambling sector is sorely in need of reform. The government’s recent gambling White Paper reports that there are an estimated 300,000 problem gamblers in the UK, with a further 1.8 million gambling at elevated levels of risk.

The SMF has published several reports on gambling reform over recent years, and has helped inform the debate through a range of policy recommendations. These include: the introduction of a statutory levy for addiction research, prevention and treatment, the introduction of limits for online casino products, and the introduction of an ombudsman to uphold consumer rights in the face of often egregious behaviour by the gambling industry.

While the Government’s White Paper has proposed major changes to the sector, questions remain as to whether it has gone far enough. This event brought together leading experts and commentators to look at next steps for the reform agenda.

Some areas discussed at the event included:

  • What is the effect of gambling harm on society?
  • Are there too many gambling ads?
  • Where does the government’s White Paper fall short and how can it be improved?
  • How important is it that gambling reform has a joined-up approach between Government departments and regulators?
  • Does the Department of Health and Social Care need to be involved more?
  • How will a statutory gambling levy support better research, prevention and treatment?