CHESHIRE East Council will urge the Government to impose tighter restrictions on gambling advertisements to help prevent the ‘pernicious disease’ of addiction.

At Tuesday’s meeting, cabinet members supported a call for a total ban on TV adverts for online betting firms before the watershed and agreed to write to Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The call was originally made at February’s full council meeting by Ainsley Arnold, former Conservative councillor for Tytherington, and supported by Cllr Liz Wardlaw, Conservative member for Odd Rode.

“Gambling is for some a pernicious disease which causes untold damage to individuals and to families,” Cllr Wardlaw told cabinet.

“Anything this council can do to reduce the attraction to gambling is to be encouraged.”

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Cabinet members agreed that the Government and the gambling industry must do more to help tackle addiction.

Figures from the Gambling Commission – provided at the meeting by Labour Cllr Laura Jeuda, cabinet member for adult social care and health – show that there are 430,000 people in the UK with a serious gambling addiction.

Cllr Jeuda added that if people who are thought to be at risk of addiction are added to that number, it rises to more than two million, with 55,000 being aged between 11 and 16 years old.

Last month, the NHS announced plans to open 14 new gambling addiction clinics and launched a specialist service for addicts aged 13 to 25 years old in London.

“The gambling industry has created major problems,” Cllr Jeuda said.

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“Not just for individual gamblers, but the burden on families and relationships, and our health service.

“The Government must take action and begin by imposing a compulsory levy on the industry and revising the current, inadequate Gambling Act [legislation].”

Since the most recent Gambling Act was introduced in 2005, the popularity of online gambling has soared.

New guidance from the Advertising Standards Agency adopted in April has aimed to restrict the amount of gambling advertisements that under-18s can see on TV, while the industry has taken on a voluntary ban on adverts during sports programmes.

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Labour Cllr Jill Rhodes, cabinet member for public health and corporate services, added: “We as a council believe that the new legislation is the beginning of a way to deal with the issues around gambling.

“But there needs to be much more if we are to successfully help those families and people who are addicted to gambling.”