With the ongoing review of the Gambling Act 2005, the regulator body in the UK continues to take measures to protect vulnerable people. Last week, the joint work of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and UK law enforcement authorities led to the shutdown of illegal lottery operations on Facebook.
Different studies related to the effects of gambling also help the ongoing review of the gambling laws in the UK. A recent study revealed that the number of women who are at risk of gambling harm is increasing. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) is launching a study on the effect of gambling on society and the economy in the UK. Such studies are supposed to also provide additional data to help the review of the Gambling Act 2005.
Illegal Facebook Lotteries Shut Down After UKGC Investigation
Following an investigation of the UKGC, illegal lotteries that were operating on Facebook were shut down. The inquiry on these activities was carried out with the help of the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and specialists working for the social network platform.
The illegal lotteries that were promoted on Facebook were offering individuals various cash prizes, clothing items, and children’s toys. The investigation revealed the two individuals who were involved with the illegal lotteries and were removed from all Facebook groups linked to the illegal activities. This action followed the cease and desist letters the two individuals received from the North East Regional Special Operations and South West Regional Organised Crime Units.
Helen Venn, UKGC’s executive director, noted that hundreds of people participated in these illegal lotteries but the main goal of the investigation was to find the culprits who were organizing these activities illegally. She added that the Commission will continue investigating such activities that are often promoted on social media and increase the potential of gambling harm among vulnerable individuals.
It has become commonplace that the big winners in such lotteries are often actually the organisers of the illegal activities, relying on false advertising to lure more people into participating in their schemes. Coordinators from GAIN’s units ensured that they will continue working with the UKGC to ensure better protection for vulnerable individuals.
Study Shows Huge Gambling Harm Rates Among Women During Winter Season
A recent study showed that up to 1 million women in the UK are at risk of gambling harm, with the winter season recording the highest traffic rates at casino and bingo sites that mainly target females.
Even though gambling addicts are predominantly male, in the past five years, the number of females that have sought help with gambling addiction has doubled. While in 2015 to 2016 there were 1,134 cases of women seeking gambling addiction treatment, the numbers for 2020 and 2021 have reached 2,423.
Although more women are suffering from gambling-related harms, the sad statistics show that a large portion of them do not look for help. According to GambleAware, two in every five women are not willing to seek treatment due to being embarrassed by their condition. This is a rather concerning statistic as women are typically more likely to develop mental health problems prompted by gambling. The charity organisation has also revealed that the gambling sites that mainly cater to women, such as bingo sites, record the highest traffic rates in the months between December and March.
Thanks to the results of the study, the government is expected to take action during the Gamble Act 2005 review and introduce measures that will offer better protection for high-risk groups.
NIESR to Study the Social and Economic Impact of Gambling in the UK
To further help UK lawmakers to revise the current gambling laws, NIESR will also launch a study on the effects that gambling has on the society and economy of the country. The study will focus on both the positive and negative effects of gambling in the UK. According to NIESR, the study will mainly focus on the impact gambling has on specific individuals, various communities as well as the general public.
According to Adrian Pabst, who is in charge of NIESR’s study, gambling plays a very important role in the economic and social development of the UK. Unfortunately, he believes that there are not enough data to accurately indicate the benefits and negative side of gambling, especially the impact gambling-related harm has on the country’s economy.
The study is expected to be completed in the summer of this year and it will include specialists from different fields such as health experts, economists, and Treasury and government stakeholders. While the study will most likely be concluded after the Gambling Review white paper is published, the results from the project will be very helpful for a better understanding of the correlation between gambling and the UK economy.