Labour deputy leader Tom Watson restated his hope for credit cards to be banned from gambling and his desire to appoint a state official to protect consumers.
Speaking with James O’Brien on LBC radio, he said the UK has a gambling addiction crisis, with half a million people identified as problem gamblers and a further 2 million vulnerable to problem gambling.
“No one could have predicted the implosion of digital gambling “
He said consumer interests are not accounted for in the market and plan to appoint an ombudsman to help consumers who have been misled, misinformed and targeted by predatory parts of the industry.
This will allow compensation for targeted individuals and ensure operators act legally and prevent gambling harms.
Tom Watson went on to say the industry is still underperforming and more must be done to rectify the situation. Just recently Platinum Gaming & Gamesys Limited were fined over £1 million each.
When asked by James O’Brien if the situation is similar to payday loan scandals, Watson confirmed and explained how gambling operators use ‘big data analytics’ to profile and target individuals with gambling products, pushing them to deposit more and more, instead of offering preventative measures and advice.
Tom Watson said:
“The online sector know the patterns of behaviour that lead to problem gambling, such as frequency of bets, amount of time spent online, the value of the bet and erratic patterns of behaviour. They can spot these signs of behaviour.”
Tom Watson believes recreational gambling is ok, but a line has to be drawn when operators are breaking the law and targeting problem gamblers and failing to spot and intervene.
“You should be able to make a bet and afford to the lose the money, you put on the bet…You can still bet using a credit card. You shouldn’t go into debt to place a bet, so we want to ban the use of credit cards.”