The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee reached out to major operators, such as Bet365 and Flutter, to solicit their input on proposed gambling reforms. This feedback is being collected as part of the UK’s ongoing efforts to prepare a comprehensive gambling white paper. However, due to several delays, the government is now expected to present the paper in May.
Input from major operators
Recently, the government agency responsible for leading the gambling reforms released some of the feedback from the operators. Almost unanimously, the operators expressed concern about the conduct of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). These concerns were widespread and highlighted the need for reform in the gambling industry.
Flutter, a major operator in the UK gambling industry, expressed concerns in its feedback about the UKGC’s lack of engagement with operators when it comes to providing input on the feedback they offer. Flutter argued that the regulator only responds when it is ready to issue fines, without providing adequate consultation.
“It is even rarer for the Gambling Commission to provide feedback on our response so that, for example, we can understand why our evidence was not seemingly taken into account in that final outcome,” Flutter stated to the DCMS.
Furthermore, Flutter raised issues regarding the UKGC’s ability to address the industry’s complexities, specifically with regards to the use of advanced technology by operators. Flutter believes that the regulator needs to seek more input from expert insiders in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities presented by these new technologies.
Bally’s Corp agreed with Flutter, adding that the UKGC doesn’t adequately assess emerging technologies when introducing new policies to regulate the industry.
Entain echoed these concerns and went further, suggesting that the UKGC should adopt a more collaborative approach when interacting with operators, rather than one that is confrontational.
According to the DCMS committee, Entain also reported that it has repeatedly provided feedback to the UKGC, but very little of it has made it into final policy. These issues raise concerns about the effectiveness of the UKGC’s regulatory approach and the need for greater consultation with the industry.
Upcoming affordability checks of doubtful viability
With rumoured upcoming gambling reform in the UK, discussions around affordability checks remain a contentious issue. Many in the industry believe that these checks could lead to increased black-market gaming, although there have been no in-depth studies on the viability of these measures.
Despite this, some operators, such as Bet365, have started to make changes in anticipation of mandatory spending controls, although the lack of guidance makes implementation challenging.
Entain has highlighted a survey showing that roughly one-third of gamblers would consider moving offshore if the UK implements mandatory affordability checks.
Both Flutter and Entain have been leading the way in promoting voluntary responsible gambling measures and have emphasised the need for thoroughly tested procedures to be considered in any reforms.
The gambling white paper has undergone rewrites for almost three years and was initially set to be presented in September of last year. However, a series of government missteps and unforeseen changes caused delays, with the DCMS – which has had three different bosses in less than two years – now indicating that the white paper may be ready by the end of this month.
However, with the department still reviewing responses from operators, it is unlikely to meet this deadline.
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