The Gambling Bill reaches its committee stage in the House of Lords on Thursday 10 March.
Much progress has been made on certain aspects of the Bill, including reducing the number of new casinos and limiting the use of credit. However no progress has been made on the fact that the Gambling Bill permits children as young as 8 to gamble on certain fruit-machines. Britain is the only western country which allows children to gamble commercially, and this has resulted in as many as 1 in 20 children being classed as problem gamblers.
The Government has said that children and gambling do not mix, but has failed to introduce amendments to the Gambling Bill to turn rhetoric into reality.
The Methodist Church, together with the Salvation Army and NCH, have argued that Parliament has a duty to protect children. We have just a week to put pressure on Parliament to act.
An amendment is being tabled to Clause 45 which would ban children from gambling on fruit machines. We would like as many peers as possible to support it.
If you believe that children and gambling do not mix, could you give 20 minutes do three things?
1. The Methodist Church, the Salvation Army and NCH have set up a petition to demonstrate to the media and the Government that people care about this issue. You can sign the petition online at www.salvationarmy.org.uk/petition. Alternatively a paper copy of the petition is available on the “what’s new” pages of the Methodist Church website - www.methodist.org.uk - or from Flora Bain on 020-7467-3784 - you could ask people to sign this at church on Sunday. We need to get as many signatures as we can by Tuesday 8 March (3 minutes)
2. Please write to one or more Peers telling them why you care about this issue. Many Peers are shockingly still unaware that the Gambling Bill allows children to gamble - legally. Please bring this to their attention and ask them to speak and vote in support of the amendment to Clause 45. Please ensure that they get the letter by Wednesday 9 March. See the Methodist Church website - www.methodist.org.uk under what’s new - for details of Peers to write to and suggested ideas for your letter (15 minutes)
3. Please get as many people as possible to sign the petition and to write letters. Forward this email to friends, family, colleagues….! (2 minutes)
Please seize this opportunity to ensure that the Gambling Bill gives children the protection they need.