Mick Antoniw, Assembly Member for Pontypridd and Chair of the Assembly’s Cross Party Group on Problem Gambling has urged UK and Welsh Government action to tackle the growing influence of gambling in sport.

Speaking in a debate at the Assembly Mick Antoniw said:

“In the UK, gambling is a £15 billion industry, and growing year by year.  The digital revolution which allows access to gambling at any time, in any place as well as ‘in-play’, together with saturation TV, mobile and stadium advertising means that the sports betting market is growing at a phenomenal rate.  There can be little doubt that for sport, gambling has become the new nicotine; the new tobacco industry.

“The impact on young people especially, should be a wake-up call for Governments, the sports industry and the gambling industry itself.  Research indicates that in the UK, seventy 78 per cent of young people think betting is just a normal part of sport.  This normalisation of the association of gambling with sport is incredibly significant. It has become part of the culture of sport and it should worry us greatly.

“Currently there are approximately 40,000 problem gamblers in Wales.  This figure grows to approaching 500,000 people when those at risk and those adversely affected by gambling are factored in.  My fear is that in the near future, a generation indoctrinated to view sport and gambling as indivisible will make these numbers look like small change.

“We need a clear and dynamic strategy that is up to the scale of the gambling public health epidemic that is already hitting our young people. It needs to include public education.  It needs to include action on planning to limit the number of outlets and the way they advertise.  Ultimately, it must also include applying pressure to the gambling industry for proper funding to help tackle gambling addiction and to provide gambling education.”