A Sheffield family which was nearly torn apart by the father’s secret gambling addiction has welcomed Labour’s pledge to tighten up regulation of the industry.
Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson today outlined a raft of new measures to tackle what he has branded a ‘public health emergency, including a ban on credit card payments for bets and a one per cent levy on firms to fund treatment for addicts.
Adam Bradford believes those steps may have stopped his father David ending up in jail four years ago, having stolen more than £50,000 in a last-ditch attempt to cover up his addiction.
The 25-year-old businessman, from Waterthorpe, said: “Had these measures been in place a few years ago, I honestly believe my dad wouldn’t have gone to prison.
“He committed a crime in a last-ditch attempt to solve his problems.
“He’d taken out 21 credit cards and loans so he could keep chasing his losses, falling deeper and deeper into debt.
“These measures would have stopped him gambling with money he didn’t have, and they would have made it easier for him to get the treatment he needed for his addiction, which is a mental health problem.”
Adam and David, a 62-year-old former financial controller, have campaigned tirelessly since 2014 for stricter laws on gambling in the UK.
The pair welcomed the Government’s commitment in May to slash the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, but they believe it should be doing more to protect vulnerable gamblers.
As well as the new levy and credit card ban, Mr Watson told how a Labour government would prohibit gambling adverts during live sports broadcasts, among other measures.
“There are 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK - 25,000 of them are under 16 and there are millions more who are at risk of developing that habit.
"The explosion of advertising on sports has gone too far - it's not just about the competitions now or the beauty of the game. It's changed our culture entirely to the point where people feel they need to bet on sports to enjoy it.
"Some experts estimate the cost to society to be around £1.2billion. We have to take this seriously and reduce our overall exposure to gambling."