We should never think of gambling as “merely” a Christian issue.

It concerns everyone. Young people in the world of football is a group of special concern. The Professional Players Federation recorded a film last week trying to warn young players of the risks involved in gambling. Less than two weeks ago, official figures show that 430,000 Britons have a serious gambling problem. That is up from 280,000 in 2012. The Times sports commentator says “I have seen the lives of two of my dearest friends ruined by betting. I have witnessed the hope banished from their eyes, their families taken over the precipice. Gambling typically doesn’t just ruin one life devours the wider social fabric.”

Record Fine

Last week, it was announced that 888 – one of Britain’s biggest online gambling firms – is set to pay a record fine of more than £7.8 million, having failed to protect its customers. Specifically, 888’s self-exclusion mechanisms were found not to be robust enough such that more than 7,000 gamblers who had chosen to self-exclude were still able to access their accounts and gamble. During the 13 months this error went unnoticed, one customer staked more than £1.3 million, including £55k stolen from their employer. In her trial she describes gambling as a “monster that had taken over my life.”

Safeguarding Issue

CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) has consistently called for gambling companies to do more to protect problem gamblers and those around them who suffer, including families and communities. They are therefore particularly pleased to see the Gambling Commission taking action to make clear that safeguarding vulnerable gamblers is not optional.

A long-awaited review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has been delayed again until October. (CARE wants the amount that can be wagered reduced from £100 to £2.)

Jesus came to bring abundant life. Betting often offers the opposite. Even those who set out to gamble responsibly are finding that to be the case.