Responding to news that gambling giant Playtech has abandoned attempts to use a legal loophole to dodge a £3.5million fine, Pontypridd Member of Senedd, Mick Antoniw has called on the UK Government to treat online gambling as a threat to public health and warned that lockdown may mean an increase in the number of people with gambling problems.

Mick Antoniw MS said:

“As the chair of the Senedd’s Cross party Group on Problem Gambling, I welcome Playtech’s decision to at last do the right thing and pay the fine imposed on them for serious systemic failings in the way they managed their social responsibilities.

“The way this company has acted has been outrageous. First, it allowed a young man to continue to gamble despite piling up a £119,000 debt and plied him with ‘bonuses’ right up to the point that he took his own life. Then, by trying to dodge the fine imposed on it, Playtech put the family through months of agony.

“Online gambling is out of control in the UK and I am concerned that the impact of lockdown may mean that many more people will develop gambling problems, and whilst this specific case is particularly distressing, it means that that many more lives will be destroyed as a result.”

In Wales the Chief Medical officer has recognised the public health risks associated with online gambling and the growth of gambling addiction. Whereas gambling is not a devolved matter the social consequences of gambling addiction are.

Mick Antoniw added:

“I’m calling on the UK Government to treat gambling, and online gambling in particular as a threat to public health and to impose a regulatory framework that put the protection of people, not company profits, first.”