The APPG has published an interim report on its inquiry into the harms and risks from online gambling. Headway submitted written evidence to the inquiry and, as a result, was asked to come to Parliament and give further evidence, along with George,* a brain injury survivor who had become addicted to online gambling with horrific consequences.
George gambled and lost over £200,000 in just a few months after being awarded compensation for his acquired brain injury. Even after he self-excluded from gambling sites, he was sent advertising and offers to encourage him to gamble again. Due to his addiction, he also found ways to work around his self-exclusion.
Dr Clare Mills, Headway’s Public Affairs Manager, said: “Giving evidence to the APPG’s inquiry, and supporting George to do so, was a real opportunity to tell more people about some of the lesser-known risks after acquired brain injury and to show the lasting harm that can result, in this case through gambling addiction and the loss of significant compensation.
“It is very good to see that the APPG is calling for online gambling operators to act far more sympathetically and return money in cases where money was clearly gambled when it should not have been, for example when a person has been shown to have been vulnerable through an acquired brain injury.
“Changes in the way gambling companies deal with vulnerable customers, and their response when they are informed about someone’s acquired brain injury, are absolutely crucial.
“It’s too late for George – we know that he stands almost no chance of having his money refunded – but any improvements in protection for other vulnerable people are welcome.”
The APPG on Gambling Related Harm has made a number of recommendations, after finding that in 2018, £5.6bn was lost by gamblers on online gambling and in many cases by vulnerable people. The report states that the APPG: “heard at first-hand about the high-levels of harm which online gambling causes, in some cases tragically leading to suicide… Online advertising and marketing is often highly aggressive. We heard cases of individuals ‘self-excluding’ from gambling sites and registering with services such as GamStop, only to be bombarded with marketing and offered inducements such as free bets. This is inexcusable and must be stopped.”
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*not his real nameBack