The Evangelical Alliance has joined with other churches and charities to call on the Government to change gambling legislation to protect the most vulnerable.

The statement, issued with the Church of England, the Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland, the United Reformed Church and Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs, comes as a review of laws in this area draws to a close.

The Government are currently reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act which significantly liberalised and as a result normalised gambling activity, and this present call for evidence is likely to lead to proposals for how the law should be reformed.

In the statement, the churches and charities call on the Government to treat gambling as a public health issue. Gambling related harms affect families, communities, colleagues and friends as well as individuals, and can cause mental and physical ill health, indebtedness, family breakdown and most tragically may even result in suicide. These harms simply cannot be tackled by focusing on individuals’ gambling habits or relying on individual organisations to provide solutions. Instead the devolved and UK Governments must adopt a public health approach to prevent harm and address population level risks.”


The Evangelical Alliance, alongside many of the organisations it joins in this statement, has been involved in working for better gambling regulation since before the 2005 Act came into force. We were at the forefront of the campaign against super casinos and pushed the government for many years to drastically reduce the amount of money that could be spent on fixed odds betting terminals. In 2019 the stake limits were cut from £100 to £2.

The organisations are all responding to the Government’s review and raising a range of areas where changes are required to the existing legislation. This includes updating the laws to address the vast increase in online gambling and providing better regulation for advertising. Many of the groups, including the Evangelical Alliance, will be pressing for significant reduction, even a total ban, on gambling advertising in sport.

The statement from the churches and charities goes on to address concern about gambling by children and young people: we have all expressed a particular concern for children, teenagers and young adults, who are especially vulnerable to the harms caused by gambling. We are calling for gambling advertising to be dramatically reduced or banned altogether, and for unethical marketing practices to be identified and prevented. We have all welcomed plans to increase the age limit on the National Lottery, called for this to be extended across all lottery products, and for an end to the anomaly that children are still allowed to gamble on Category D gaming machines. Gambling is an adult activity, and a regulated industry must not be allowed to entice or market to children, or to provide any gambling products for them.”

"We are calling for gambling advertising to be dramatically reduced or banned altogether, and for unethical marketing practices to be identified and prevented."

As well as the specific measures addressed in the Government’s review, the faith groups are calling on the Government to address gambling as a public health issue rather than as a recreational activity. This would mean that it is regulated according to the harm that it causes rather than treated as any other leisure activity.

Central to making this a reality is ensuring that sufficient funds are available for research, education and treatment of gambling related harm. The original legislation enables the Government to impose a fixed levy on gambling revenue, which the Gambling Commission would then distribute. This has never been implemented and instead the industry has made voluntary contributions towards these needs. The contributions are wholly inadequate – making up less than 0.1 per cent of gambling income. It is time that the Government enforce this provision – no new legislation is needed – so that research, education and treatment are properly funded and not subject to the whims of the betting industry’s generosity.

To find out more about the key issues that the Evangelical Alliance is calling on the Government to act on, visit our guide to the review, and submit your response by the end of 31 March 2021