The report comes amidst a backdrop of gambling-related harm being a serious public health challenge – on average a problem gambler takes their life every working day. This requires urgent and coordinated action from the Government, regulators and industry.
The Committee’s recommendations include:
- The Government must act immediately to bring loot boxes within the remit of gambling legislation and regulation.
- Gambling operators should no longer be allowed to advertise on the shirts of sports teams or any other visible part of their kit. There should also be no gambling advertising in or near any sports grounds or sports venues.
- The Gambling Commission should create a system for testing all new games against a series of harm indicators, including their addictiveness and whether they will appeal to children. A game which scores too highly on the harm indicators must not be approved.
The GHA welcomes these recommendations, as they echo many of the calls to action made by RSPH in its 2019 report, Skins in the Game, which revealed how gambling has become an increasingly normal part of many young people’s lives.
Duncan Stephenson, Chair of the GHA and Deputy Chief Executive of RSPH, said:
“The Committee’s report and recommendations come at a crucial time in securing action to reduce gambling-related harm. There are a shocking 55,000 problem gamblers aged between 11 and 16. This latest report provides yet more evidence that the Government’s review into the impact of loot boxes is long overdue. The recommendations echo similar calls both ourselves and MPs have made about the potential harm from online gaming including loot boxes can have, particularly in terms of encouraging young people into problem gambling and addiction.
“Now is the time for action and we call upon the Government to start consultation on the impact of loot boxes as a matter of urgency. These recommendations cannot be ignored if we are to prevent more lives being damaged by problem gambling.”