It’s time to focus on what matters – ADDICTS – Open Letter

Media Enquiries: Adam Bradford, tel 07950 313113 or Rodney Levine-Boateng tel 07578 639284

Today, in an open letter to the gambling industry and politicians, Adam and David Bradford from the Safer Online Gambling Group have called for an ‘end to the mud-slinging’ and for political parties to include ‘moderate and person-centred’ gambling policies in their manifestos. 

Writing this morning, ahead of their joint appearance in Channel 5’s documentary Robbing Your Relatives this evening at 10pm, the pair made an emotional appeal.

Dear gambling industry and political leaders,

It is high time that the moral high horse is set free. Nobody in the debate on gambling addiction is looking to ban anything, nor is anyone looking to take anyone else’s enjoyment of gambling away. 

Our focus should solely be on protecting customers and making gambling safe and enjoyable for those who wish to take part in it.

The ground is fertile now for operators and politicians to look practically at ways that intervention projects and player protection measures can step up to the next level. With the recent launch of the Betting and Gaming Council, it is clear that the industry is ready to move and in some cases is already moving.

Progress is being made and sometimes the industry gets an unfair press for its efforts. Taking out betting sponsorship from football clubs, a whistle-to-whistle advert ban, more investment in affordability measures and a commitment to safer gambling measures. We are pleased to see the dial of the national debate changing as these measures emerge.

We are calling on the industry to continue to use the experiences of those who have been through the addiction who are willing to make a difference, in order to make sure the needs and experiences of families and communities are at the heart of any intervention. We hope to see moderate and solution focused gambling policy at the heart of the debate going forwards and look forward to working with you all across sectors and party colours to make change happen. Adam and David Bradford, Safer Online Gambling Group

David’s son Adam, who had to pick up the pieces aged 21 when his father was jailed for stealing money to fund his gambling addiction, said: ‘But for anything to work this factionalism needs to die a fast and painful death. Throwing daggers will not achieve change. Focusing on impact and remembering every word we say, every policy we make, every intervention we carry out when it comes to gambling addiction, has to focus solely and delicately on the mental health of the addict, their family and their community.’ 

The journey to recovery from gambling addiction is long and continuing for the Bradford family, who still make their way through the mountain of debt David Bradford left behind and he still receives counselling and support for his addiction.

The Safer Online Gambling Group works as a cross-sector platform to bring together gambling operators, addicts, health and social care professionals and politicians. It strives for greater awareness of gambling addiction in all sections of society and runs projects which provide direct support for addicts founded on the lived experience of others. 

SOGG PRAISES GOVERNMENT PLANS TO REMOVE GAMBLING FROM VIDEO GAMES

Media Contact:Adam Bradford, tel: 07950 313113, adam@saferonlinegambling.org or Rodney Levine-Boateng at 100 Acres Media tel: 07578 639284, rodney@100acres.com

Today MPs have argued that so-called ‘loot boxes’ in video games for children should be regulated under gambling law and banned from children. 

The feature, which allows players to stake real money for better weapons, player upgrades and gaming add-ons, has been dubbed as simulated gambling by campaigners which is fuelling a hidden epidemic of child gambling addicts.

Research from the GambleAware charity suggests that 55,000 children aged under 18 are addicted to gambling and the Safer Online Gambling Group’s survey from August 2019 suggests that loot boxes and in-game purchases are costing Britain over £270m each year.

A report published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today urges the Government to crack down on these gaming features which MPs call lucrative games of chance. 

Adam Bradford, director of the Safer Online Gambling Group welcomed today’s news. He said: “It is high time video games companies took responsibility for the highly addictive content they are putting in front of children. Our research this summer showed that this area is of serious concern to parents, with the average spend per young person estimated at £500-600 per year on these games, these practices are bankrupting young people before they become young adults. After my father’s gambling addiction spiralled out of control and led him to jail several years ago, we are passionate about protecting the next generation from the harms of gambling addiction and that is why we have raised the alarm on this issue – we are delighted the Government has seen sense on this important issue.” 

The report today challenges the Government to prove why loot boxes should be regarded in a different way to any other gambling product. 

Committee chair Damian Collins MP pointed the finger at game companies and social networking sites for their “relentless battle to capture ever more of people’s attention, time and money”.

He said: “Their business models are built on this, but it’s time for them to be more responsible in dealing with the harms these technologies can cause for some users.

“Loot boxes are particularly lucrative for games companies but come at a high cost, particularly for problem gamblers, while exposing children to potential harm.

“Buying a loot box is playing a game of chance and it is high time the gambling laws caught up.

The report says it “struggled to get clear answers and useful information from companies across the games industry”, describing them as “wilfully obtuse”, but hopes the inquiry will focus minds on the potential harms.

Young people losing millions to addictive gaming – REPORT

Today, a survey by the Safer Online Gambling Group exposes Britain’s hidden epidemic of young people spending millions of pounds every year on in-app purchases and video game add-ons.

The survey estimates that young people and families could be losing over £270m each year through so called ‘loot boxes’ which offer the chance to gain greater players or upgrades in video games and mobile apps in return for cash. 1 in 2 young people (11-18) encountered in the survey had used a loot box recently and the average spend on in-game content per person was estimated at £500-600 per year.

One in ten young people are thought to have accidentally spent money on in-app purchases and 95% used gaming apps on their mobile or tablet devices according to the report. The survey also documents the rise in adverts being shown for betting to young people underage on social media and through affiliate advertising platforms inside mobile and tablet based games.

SOGG, led by entrepreneur Adam Bradford (26) and his father David (63), was born out of the pair’s joint concern about gambling addiction and gaming which mimics gambling for children; after David spent time in jail for stealing money to pay for his out of control gambling addiction in 2014. The former financial controller racked up hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt through loans, remortgaging his house and betting for over 30 years in secret and left his family to pick up the pieces. The pair have campaigned against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals and lobby for tighter regulation on online gambling. The group has the support of the Labour party, several MPs, the NHS and leading bookmakers.

The pair will hand in the research to Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street and they are calling on the industry and Government to act. They believe in-game purchasing should be barred by default on games and apps and that gameplay should not mimic gambling or link social or financial success to purchases made. They also want tighter rules on advertising and affiliates, so young people have less chance of seeing gambling content under age.

Find out more and view the report at www.saferonlinegambling.org/research.

— ENDS —

Press are invited to attend Downing Street at 3pm on 28th August for interviews, photo opportunities and further comment.

Media Contact: Adam Bradford, tel: 07950 313113, e-mail: adam@saferonlinegambling.org
For SOGG enquiries: Rodney Levine-Boateng, 100 Acres Media, tel: 07578 639284, e-mail: rodney@100acres.com