Special House of Lords committee to examine impact of gambling

Political scrutiny of the gambling industry is to increase still further with the news that a special House of Lords committee is to be set up to examine the effects of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The investigation into the social and economic impact of gambling, which is due to report by the end of March 2020, was proposed by the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, who has been a trenchant critic of the sector.

It is likely to consider issues such as the cost of gambling on public services, including mental health and hospitals; welfare and employment costs and criminal justice costs.

Others areas to be examined will include the effectiveness of the voluntary levy paid by operators towards treatment and research, and whether a mandatory levy should replace it; taxation of offshore operators; the impact of gambling advertising and what has been described as the "gamblification" of sport.

Responding to the news, the Remote Gambling Association said: "We always welcome an opportunity to engage with Parliament on issues related to gambling. To that extent we would look forward to presenting to the right honourable members of the House of Lords and to focus on, as the Honourable Bishop of St Albans states, 'a dispassionate and accurate set of facts and figures'."

Gambling firms would not be the only operations coming under scrutiny. The inquiry may also look into whether the "Gambling Commission and local authorities are effectively regulating gambling", according to the Lords' Liaison Committee.

A spokesperson for the commission said: "We welcome the announcement of this inquiry and look forward to sharing our expertise and experience with the committee."