OFollowing a rise in online betting activity and a spate of high profile incidents in which consumers have suffered significant losses, countdown has started for the gambling White Paper. The UK Government is conducting the most comprehensive gambling review in 15 years to ensure the gaming law is current with the digital era.
The press has reported some extreme cases of gambling addiction. They include a number of people driven to take their own lives.
Campaigners are hopeful it will include plans for a levy on gambling companies’ online slot machines to match those found in land-based gambling…. Now there is a Las Vegas on every phone” The Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP, UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Furthermore Ms Frazer promises that the UK’s forthcoming “balanced” proposal would let gamblers enjoy a “flutter” too.
From Dowden to Frazer
Four years ago the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP announced the reforms.
In addition he said that the majority of measures were subject to further debate. This includes the precise stake limitations proposed on online slot machines. In addition there are restrictions on digital marketing such as “free” bets or incentives to be considered.
This means although the sector speculated that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed off the White Paper, the news today may indicate that the long awaited reforms to the current UK Gambling Act could be delayed even longer.
The UK gambling legislation has not kept pace with business innovations. Easy access to smart phones and internet have made it possible for almost anyone to navigate slot online machines, simulated sports wagering sites and blackjack tables.
Every year British gamblers spend about £10 billion on online casino games, sports betting and other types of commercial gambling. Tightening the regulations are imminent. The gambling white paper will address and improve the imbalance of power between gamblers and operators. By the same token the reforms will also safeguard youngsters and vulnerable groups.
Investment will be made available to finance future research into how to avoid gambling addiction.
Gamblers’ debts compared to slavery
It is reported that it is not uncommon for online gamers to lose up to £1,000 a day in the UK. The new reforms will take into consideration inspections of new gaming account holders and incorporate stricter means testing.
The Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Lawson, has been very critical of the mismanagement of the much-delayed reforms overseen by 11 Ministers. Reforms so far have been considered and debated by four cultural secretaries, six gaming ministers and three prime ministers.
The political turbulence within the governing Conservative Party together with the COVID 19 pandemic have been the main reasons for these delays.
He has indeed been very verbal about the need to publish the new reforms without further delay. Writing on his column on a Sunday newspaper, he has compared gamblers’ debts to slavery describing them as ‘unenforceable’. He said that “the smartphone is now their ball and chain”.
Technology advancement requires new reforms
Zoe Osmond, CEO of the charity GambleAware, said this week that gambling harm is a serious public health issue.
As the leading independent charity and strategic commissioner of gambling harm prevention and treatment across Great Britain, we look forward to the publication of the White Paper and with it, further regulation to prevent gambling harm” Zoe Osmond, CEO – GambleAware
The Premier League supports the proposed new White Paper. This has been well received by all concerned stakeholders. The Premier League has been collaborating with other sports organisations to create and develop a gambling sponsorship code.
Operators welcome new reforms
The gambling reforms in the UK legislation have been welcomed by operators in the gaming sector.
Peter Jackson, CEO of leading gaming operator Flutter Entertainment, said that the company has been engaging constructively with the UK Gambling Commission and the UK Government. The topic of discussion is the industry consultation processes.
Flutter’s brands include SkyBet, Paddy Power and Betfair.
He added that the company is focussing on providing support to minority and marginalised communities that may be at risk of gambling harm. Jackson explained that the company is doing its utmost to come up with answers for a solution in the UK jurisdiction.
Jackson said that a balance in the law would still give enjoyment to the majority of gamblers in the future.
We welcome the publication of the White Paper, which marks a significant moment for the UK gambling sector. Whilst we will need to review the detail of the proposals once published, we believe proactive change will lead to a better future for our industry.” Peter Jackson, CEO – Flutter Entertainment
Has the countdown begun?
On 8 December 2020, the former Media Secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced the forthcoming publication of the White Paper. The initiative was first cited in the Tory Party election manifesto as “a major and wide ranging review of gambling laws” for digital age.
The gaming sector has made it quite clear that the eagerly awaited proposed reforms will give a better future to the industry. Operators and most stakeholders are supporting the changes nearly unanimously.
Many challenge the status quo of the situation however so far the wait continues. Nevertheless, it is now precisely 28 months or 124 weeks or 870 days since Oliver Dowden’s announcement. When will the countdown to publication actually begin?