Ministers were told to push through gambling reform after an audit by the Daily Mail revealed the devastating toll of gambling addiction.
One study has revealed nearly 100 suicides in which gambling problems were a major factor in a decade.
Campaigners said the tragic roll call — 36 of whom are pictured here — showed the “smashing reality” of the damage caused by “greedy and amoral” corporations.
Senior Tories are angry that once-in-a-generation reforms will be watered down, urging Boris Johnson to ignore treasury lobbyists and money-makers.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘People are dying. Ministers have promised reforms and now they have to deliver them.’
A final announcement on the reforms was expected this week, but it appears that this delay will be delayed.
Families whose loved ones have committed suicide through gambling are calling on ministers to implement reforms. Victims in the photo from left to right: Aaron Armstrong, Aaron Sluman, Chris Bruney, Chris Dyson, Huseyin Yaman and Jack Ritchie
From left to right: Jordan Feek, Joshua Hall, Lee Murphy, Lewis Keogh, Philip Tomlinson and Robert Shone
Important measures to contain the death toll from gambling have been watered down as a result of a split in the top of the Conservative Party.
Gambling Minister Chris Philp and the Department of Health are taking on the Treasury, which fears the reform could hurt tax revenues on gambling.
Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has postponed the reform because he rejected a tax to fund NHS treatment for gambling addiction as ‘unconservative’, insiders said. He would favor a version of the current system in which gambling companies voluntarily donate 0.1 percent of their revenues to research and treatment. However, campaigners want a legal obligation to pay 1 percent.
Mr Rees-Mogg believes the rules should not stop gamblers who are not addicted or indebted from spending their money as they please.
The Mail understands he is backed by Mr Johnson’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Canzini, formerly president of a company that had Ladbrokes Coral as a customer.
But families want sweeping reforms.
Julie Martin, whose husband Bill Troshupa committed suicide in November in front of their 16-year-old son, said: “The gambling companies are monsters. Gambling must be safely regulated so that people do not lose their lives and families do not lose loved ones.’
From left to right: Andrew David Nabb, Bill Troshupa, Daniel Clinkscales, David Armstrong, Jimmy Farrell and Joey Beauchamp
From left to right: Bradley Whitehall, Brandon Windeatt-Ball, Florin Batrincs, Fred Harper-McShane, John Anderson and Jordan Choudhury
Public Health England estimates there are 409 gambling-related suicides a year – more than one a day.
The 94 gambling deaths discovered by the Mail make up the largest list ever compiled. Among them were Brandon Windeatt-Ball, a 21-year-old who gambled £10,000 for a home deposit, and 28-year-old NHS staffer Joshua Hall, who lost half his annual salary within days.
Rebecca Hanks, who tried to help her son Mason Moore, 20, fight his addiction by managing his bank account, said: “The gambling companies are just greedy. People can do their best to get rid of their addiction, but the bookmakers are bringing them back in.”
Jordan Choudhury, 25, took his own life in February 2021 after playing ‘through the night’ on slot machine websites and losing £11,000. He told his family, “Next time you see me, I’ll be in my box.”
His sister, Michelle Bidder, said: ‘I want the government to stop making it so easy for people to go into huge debt on gambling sites.’
The Mail found 47 named suicides. Charities that help bereaved families said they supported an additional 47 families who did not want to speak in public.
From left to right: Kimberley Wadsworth, Lee Collins, Natsha White, Phil Stretton, Charleene Carlson and Ryan Myers
From left to right: Joshua Jones, Jowen Evans, Luke Ashton, Mason Moore, Omair Abbas and Cameron McGowan
Another 21, whose death certificates listed gambling, were recorded by the Office for National Statistics between 2001 and 2016, meaning the total number of known suicides could be as high as 115, although campaigners emphasize that there is rarely a single factor leading to a person who takes his life.
Last night, Mr Philp told fellow ministers: ‘Gambling-related harm is a serious public health problem that can devastate lives. I have heard too many cases of people being led along a path to a dark destination. Reform of our gambling laws is needed.’
Ministers are likely to allow betting ads and sponsorships in the sport to continue with few restrictions, and free bets will only be banned for heavy losers, sources say.
But Sir Iain said: ‘People are dying who should not have died. Opponents of reform need to get off their calculators and go into the real world and see the damage this unchecked behavior does.
‘It will be annoying if the ministers don’t hurry up and do something. The Treasury cares about taxes and we’re campaigning to save lives – tell me who’s moral.’
Lord Chadlington, ex-chairman of Action On Addiction, said: ‘Everything I hear is disappointing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for the government to save lives, protect the vulnerable while still allowing those who can gamble safely to do so with a minimum of risk.”
The Mail’s Stop The Gambling Predators campaign aims to curb online gambling.
There are thought to be 400,000 gamblers in the UK – perhaps as many as 1.4 million.
Experts say 5 percent of problem gamblers have attempted suicide in the previous year.
For support, contact the Samaritans on toll-free phone number 116 123, or Gambling With Lives at [email protected] or 07864 299 158.