My Lords, we are carefully considering the report by NERA Economic Consulting, along with the large amount of evidence we have received in connection with our review. There are clearly difficulties in making precise predictions, but we welcome this analysis. We aim to publish a White Paper by the end of the year, setting out our conclusions and the next steps for the gambling review.
I apologise; we slightly missed the beginning of the right reverend Prelate’s comments, in the Chamber. If I have missed anything, I will write to him, but I think I got the essence of his question. We are of course looking at the economic costs. I do not recognise the £6.5 billion figure that the right reverend Prelate cites, but he is aware that one of the complexities of looking at this is the comorbidity between gambling and other forms of harm, which we need to take into consideration.
I cannot judge other people’s opinion on this, but we have certainly been transparent, as the noble Baroness sets out clearly, in what is possible and achievable in these trials. We have been very clear that the purpose of these pilots is to release the data when it has been fully analysed, which I hope will be very shortly, so that organisations working in the live events area can plan and reopen as quickly and safely as possible.
My Lords, responsibility for gambling is shared across departments. DCMS leads on industry regulation, which is key to harm prevention. DHSC leads on gambling as a health issue and on treatment, and we work closely together. We are pleased to see more research being done and we are considering the findings carefully. Dr Muggleton’s research shows a correlation between higher gambling spend and lower well-being but does not look at causes.
The right reverend Prelate raises important points. He will be aware that Public Health England is doing research at the moment, looking at how to reduce gambling harms and how to recoup the costs to society, which I hope will go some way to reassuring him.
My Lords, Public Health England has undertaken a review of evidence on the public health harms relating to gambling and their social and economic burden. Publication has been delayed by Covid but is expected in the first part of this year. We have also launched our review of the Gambling Act. We are calling for evidence on how best to reduce harms and how we will recoup the cost to society.
To take the right reverend Prelate’s first point, I know he will acknowledge that it is very difficult to tease out the specific costs related to gambling harm, particularly on health and mental health. I will endeavour to dig out the updated figures from the mental health implementation plan for the 14 clinics, but I also note that this investment is in addition to the investment being made by GambleAware in specialist clinics in London and in the Northern Gambling Service.
The noble Lord is right that there is no way to put a financial price on the pain that some families have suffered. We have a responsibility to listen to those families, take their evidence incredibly seriously and give them a real voice. We are absolutely committed to doing that. As I mentioned in your Lordships’ House last week, the first meeting that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State had in preparing for this review was with a group of people with lived experience of gambling harm of different types. So we take that incredibly seriously.
Progress is being made on advertising gambling in relation to sport. The industry has introduced measures in the last 18 months, including the whistle-to-whistle ban, which has significantly reduced children’s exposure to sports betting advertising. We are taking, and will take, a very thorough look at this review and try to establish—and I mentioned areas that were contested—to what extent advertising is linked to problem and harmful gambling.
The right reverend Prelate raises an important point. He will be aware that, next year, Public Health England will report on its evidence review into gambling-related harm. That will look at both financial and human aspects. The review being led by DCMS is looking specifically at ways of recouping the societal costs of gambling. Again, I urge the right reverend Prelate to share the evidence that he has on those costs in the broadest terms.
The noble Lord raises an important point: that the voices of those who have been harmed by gambling should be heard. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State’s first meeting on this issue was with a group of experts with lived experience of gambling harm. I encourage the noble Lord to submit evidence to this review.
I am genuinely surprised and disappointed that the right reverend Prelate reads the response in that light, because we felt that the report of the committee on which he sat was extremely helpful and constructive, and it has informed much of our thinking. There is no way that we are waiting for the outcome of the review to make gambling safer, and we have announced significant progress in the last 12 months, in particular the ban on gambling with credit cards.
I thank the noble Lord and his colleagues on that committee for its excellent report, which we are considering. The noble Lord is right to point out that online gambling has a much higher risk of harm than land-based gambling, but I do not agree that we are being slow off the mark to move on this. Operators are already required to monitor the way that their customers play and to take action. As I mentioned, we have already banned the use of credit cards for gambling, and we have been monitoring very closely during Covid-19 and beyond the trends in online gambling.
I thank the right reverend Prelate for his questions. Actually, there were fewer people using online slots and casinos in June than in March, so there are some counterintuitive trends in the gambling market. With regard to the Gambling Commission and its powers and resources, we are considering proposals for an uplift in the fees that it collects from industry. In relation to recent stories about redundancies at the commission, it is always reviewing ways to become more agile and responsive.
I thank my noble friend for his contribution as part of the task force. We are acutely aware that, as government support unwinds, the situation becomes much more difficult for both regional and other theatres and venues. As the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, mentioned, we have seen some closures already. The Government will not be in a position to save every venue, but we are regularly listening to the sector, actively talking to the Treasury and considering how best we can respond to the long-term challenges that the sector faces.
Our understanding is that, as I am sure the right reverend Prelate is aware, there is a risk of increased transmission involved in singing and the use of wind instruments. That is why non-professional choirs and orchestras will not resume for the time being, although professional orchestras can start rehearsing from 4 July on a socially distanced basis. As the right reverend Prelate mentioned, we have commissioned scientific studies, which are being carried out by SAGE, to try to build a really robust evidence base. That advice will be used to inform future policy and guidelines.
I thank my noble friend for her question. On the risk of problem gambling, all operators will have to join GAMSTOP, the one-stop online self-exclusion scheme that will come into effect at the end of this month. As she will be aware, the Government announced the banning of credit card gambling, which is extremely important because less than 1% of the population are problem gamblers but 22% of credit card gamblers were found to be so. I look forward to talking to my noble friend more about what else we can do in relation to the financial services industry.
I thank the right reverend Prelate for his suggestion. There are currently no plans to introduce a statutory levy. As he will be aware, the gambling companies make a major contribution of about £3 billion in tax. The concerns around a statutory levy would be the same for gambling as for tobacco or alcohol, which also carry huge health risks, so there are no current plans to proceed with that.
My noble friend had an even more interesting career at the Home Office than I imagined. We have announced that there will be a review of the Gambling Act. My honourable friend the Minister for Sport said this morning that nothing was off the table in terms of that review, and we also announced in the manifesto that we would address the issue of using credit cards to gamble. So the Government have heard this loud and clear and are keen to act.
I can only repeat that nothing is off the table in the review of the Act, so I would assume that exactly those issues of the gamblification—if that is a word—of sport and the examples the right reverend Prelate gives will be addressed. To be clear, the issues that came up over the weekend do not apply to under-18s—but, even so, I take his point.