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Petition Luke’s Law: Ban 'free bets' and emails that entice gamblers to place 'free bets'

'Free bets' encourage harmful addiction and can have severe consequences. My loving husband developed a gambling addiction after placing a 'free bet'. This consequently led to him to apply for loans that he could not pay back. He tragically took his own life 4 months later.

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My husband developed a gambling addiction. We managed to pay off his gambling debts and he kept his addiction at bay for almost 2 years. We have 2 children and he loved his family dearly. During lockdown, he had been furloughed and whilst I was at work and the children were in school, he was sent a 'free bet'. From that day onwards, he gambled everyday and quickly lost control. He took his own life on 22nd April 2021.

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 August 2021

The Government is looking at gambling advertising, including marketing and inducements, in our Gambling Act Review. We will set out any proposals for reform in a White Paper by the end of the year.

Ministers are aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Luke Ashton and extend their sympathy to his family and friends.

The Government has a clear vision for the gambling sector and wants all those who choose to gamble in Great Britain to be able to do so in a safe way. The UK Advertising Codes make clear that all gambling advertising and marketing must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited, and its content must not encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour. While the Advertising Standards Authority is responsible for enforcing rules on the content and placement of gambling advertising, the independent regulator, the Gambling Commission, requires compliance with these codes as a licence condition and breaches of the codes can result in enforcement action against an operator.

The Government is reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure it is fit for the digital age. The Review was launched on 8 December 2020 with a wide-ranging Call for Evidence, which closed on 31 March. We received c.16,000 submissions from a range of stakeholders and members of the public, including individuals and organisations who represent people with lived experience of gambling harms.

As part of the broad scope of the Review, we are looking closely at issues around gambling advertising, including evidence on the impacts of licensed operators being able to make promotional offers and the types of incentives they are allowed to provide. We are committed to undertaking a thorough, evidence-led review and are carefully considering the submissions we received. We aim to set out our conclusions and proposals for reform in a white paper by the end of this year.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

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