Lord Foster of Bath calls for action to combat ‘bombardment’ of marketing

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Lord Foster of Bath has stressed that he is “extremely disappointed” that “so very little” is being done to limit what he has labelled as a ‘bombardment of gambling advertising and direct marketing’.

Speaking amid ongoing reforms across the UK, and as researchers, campaigners, support bodies and people with lived experience gather in Bristol today, Foster stressed that “this activity needs much greater scrutiny and regulation”.

“I have met too many people who have experienced gambling harm and families of loved ones who have committed suicide because of it,” he said. “It’s clear large numbers of people are affected daily, including children.

“The government’s white paper includes some important measures to address this issue, including recognition at last that this is a serious public health issue. But there are also many shortcomings.”

Adding: “The promotion of gambling products has grown exponentially, with an annual spend of £1.5bn, along with providers using ever more sophisticated means to attract new customers, persuade existing ones to spend more, and keep them hooked.”

These comments come as the Bristol Hub for Gambling Harms Research gets set to host its first-ever annual International Interdisciplinary Colloquium at the M Shed in Bristol. This is intended to raise awareness of an array of issues and call for “urgent national policy change”.

Speakers include Lord Foster of Bath and former England international Peter Shilton. More than 150 experts covering health, policy, regulations, and marketing and spanning numerous countries will also descend on the city.

Professor Agnes Nairn, Co-Director of the Bristol Hub for Gambling Harms Research and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement at the University of Bristol, said: “Experience of gambling harms is a worldwide phenomenon.  

“However, the cultural context, provision of support and approach to regulation varies dramatically across countries. We are delighted to bring together experts from 13 nations to debate how strong interdisciplinary research can help tackle this growing issue.”

Last year, the University of Bristol launched the Bristol Hub for Gambling Harms Research to lead pioneering multidisciplinary research into the wide-reaching effects of gambling harms.

The independent hub, funded by a grant of £4m from GambleAware, facilitates research to improve understanding of gambling harm as a growing public health issue which needs greater scrutiny and regulation.