UK gambling charity chair says attitudes in industry stunned her

Kate Lampard, who also led Jimmy Savile and Yarl’s Wood inquiries, calls for ‘massive changes’ including end to male dominance

The chair of the UK’s leading gambling charity, who previously led the inquiry into the role of the NHS in the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, said she was stunned by industry attitudes towards concerns about problem gambling.

Kate Lampard, chair of GambleAware, warned gambling firms that they faced an “existential threat” amid declining public trust. She said they deserved criticism, pointing to “testosterone” in the industry and the hostile reception she got after taking up her post last year.

“I began my career as a barrister and I’ve led inquiries into some of the more disturbing episodes in our national life,” said Lampard, who was also previously head of an inquiry into Yarl’s Wood immigration centre. “I am not easily shocked but I was at least very surprised by the first impressions this industry offered me.”

Lampard said senior figures in the gambling world had sought to clip her wings after she gave a press interview warning that some gambling companies were “taking the mickey” by failing to make sufficient donations to addiction charities.

She claimed some had emailed her directly to “fire shots across my bow” while others had tried to bypass her by contacting the charity’s chief executive directly. Lampard said the message was along the lines of: “Who did I think I was and what did I think I was doing?”

She warned gambling companies that “current public opinion represents a serious existential threat to the future success of the gambling industry in Britain”, adding: “In truth, my experience of the industry thus far is that it is not wholly undeserving of the flak that it gets.”

Speaking at GambleAware’s annual conference, attended by several leading figures in the industry, Lampard called for a “massive change in attitudes”, including an end to the dominance of men in the industry. “This may require some change in personnel. The testosterone needs to make way for more enlightened women and men who take a long-term view.”

Gambling firms also came in for criticism for what Lampard called an internecine turf war involving bookmakers crossing swords with rival factions in the gambling industry, such as casinos and amusement arcade firms, over the regulation of controversial fixed-odds betting terminals.

Her concerns were echoed by Tim Miller, executive director of the GamblingCommission, who called on gambling firms to “stop throwing stones at commercial rivals”. He added: “Stop looking over the fence and start looking at your own backyard.”

Miller called for gambling to be treated as a public health concern, in a similar way to cigarettes, super-strength alcohol or narcotics; a study had revealed that the number of “problem gamblers” in the UK had risen to 430,000.

His comments came days after the Guardian revealed that the government had no idea how many gambling addicts were being treated by the NHS or how much it was costing.

Source; The Gurdian


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