A PETITION to ban advertising for online gambling and bingo sites from appearing on television has been launched by Ilminster’s county councillor.

Linda Piggott-Vijeh has set up the petition on 38degrees.org.uk calling for an end to TV adverts for gambling, which she says are shown at times when some of the most vulnerable members of society are watching.

Cllr Piggott-Vijeh also has a very personal link to the problem of gambling addiction.

She was very close to her brother but it was not until after he took his own life that she and her family discovered he had been a secret gambler with a serious problem.

She said: “Although we have now banned alcohol and tobacco advertising on TV, there appears to be no control over the advertising of online gambling casino and bingo sites.

“These sites are largely endorsed by celebrities and are shown at times when our most vulnerable and lonely are viewing.

“I know from personal experience, through the death of my brother, by suicide.

“I was very close to him, but had no idea that he was a secret gambler.”

A spokesman for indepedent charity GambleAware said gambling can affect anyone.

The spokesman added: “Problem gambling has been called the ‘hidden addiction’, meaning that unlike other addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction, the physical effects of the problem are very difficult to see.

“You are unlikely to know that someone has a gambling problem unless they tell you.”

Cllr Piggott-Vijeh added: “Gambling is as addictive as drinking and smoking, and in many ways more pernicious, causing other destructive behaviour.

“Often it is those who can least afford to gamble who do so, people in financial trouble, who in a desperate attempt to pay off debts will gamble their last penny.

“As a Samaritans listening volunteer I often take calls from desperate suicidal people who have become victims of such gambling sites.”

To sign the petition, visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/end-gambling-ads-on-tv