- Amendments set to come into play in 2024
- Financial checks and risk assessments under review
- Focus set to shift towards social responsibility
Ian Angus, the Director of Policy at the UK Gambling Commission, announced during a recent meeting with the Lotteries Council that amendments to the Gambling Act are set to come into play in the New Year.
Financial checks key
In reference to the government’s White Paper on the future of gambling, Angus highlighted that the current areas under review encompass financial vulnerability checks, financial risk assessment, as well as incentives in slot-based online gambling and direct marketing to customers.
As these reviews approach their conclusion, it is anticipated that any changes in these domains will be among the first to be implemented in the coming year.
The subsequent phase of reviews and consultations will shift focus towards matters of social responsibility and the bonuses extended by operators, along with considerations surrounding free bets and tools for managing gambling habits.
Addressing the potential introduction of a mandatory gambling levy for operators, Angus stated, “Whilst we’re on the levy, we are expecting DCMS to launch their consultation on the levy soon, which will be your chance to make your case. Our advice to the government on the levy will also be published.”
Because any changes to enforcing a levy on operators will be done through secondary legislation this will take much longer to introduce and Angus said on this, “Now we do have to consult before we make any changes to that document which is why there will be a number of consultation windows over the next couple of years.”
What were the main points of the Government White Paper published in April?
The UK Government’s gambling White Paper, published on Thursday April 27, was said to be a reform of the gambling laws to fit the digital age.
Gambling companies will be obliged to increase checks on customers who are sustaining unaffordable losses as part of new gambling reforms.
The plans, which will be triggered when a gambler loses £1,000 within 24 hours, or £2,000 over a 90 day period, were outlined in the White Paper.
Other measures in the document include maximum stakes for online slot machines of between £2 and £15 for all customers subject to consultation and a new statutory levy that will see gambling companies funding research, education and treatment.
The Gambling Commission will conduct background checks at moderate levels of spending to check for indicators of “financial vulnerability” including county court judgments. The UK Government have proposed that those initial checks begin at net losses of £125 a month or £500 within a year.
At higher spending levels, which may point to harmful binge gambling or continued unaffordable losses, the government have stated that there must be a more detailed appriasal of a customer’s financial situation. The threshold for this has been set at a £1,000 net loss within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days.
Culture secretary Lucy Frazer stated that the reforms, which cover “six key areas”, would protect vulnerable customers.
“Firstly, we want to tackle some of the challenges unique to online gambling…we are going to force companies to step up their checks on when losses are likely to be unaffordable or harmful for punters.
“Companies already have to intervene when they know a customer is spending vast sums, but this change will better-protect those least able to afford even small losses.”
The key measures in the White Paper
A 1% mandatory levy on industry revenues
Tougher affordability checks to prevent huge losses
Online slot machine stakes capped at between £2 and £15
Curbing “free spin” and “bonus” offers
Measures to slow down online casino games
More resources for the Gambling Commission
Plans for a gambling ombudsman
A gambling White Paper for the smartphone era
Frazer also announced a new statutory levy will see gambling companies required to fund more groundbreaking research, education and treatment.
Speaking about the new statutory levy which will see gambling companies be required to fund research, education and treatment Fraser said:
“No one should be denied an innocent flutter, but the public should not have to bear the cost of treatment when a punter becomes an addict.
“one of the important changes…will be a new statutory levy to turn the tables on problem gambling, one that sees gambling companies required to fund more groundbreaking research, education and treatment.”
She continued: “We need a new approach that recognises a flutter is one thing, unchecked addiction is another. So, today we are bringing our pre-smartphone regulations into the present day with a gambling white paper for the digital age.”
UK Bookmakers React
Ladbrokes owner Entain has welcomed the publication of the Government’s gambling white paper and said it has already implemented a number of actions linked to the new proposals.
Entain’s chief executive officer said at the time of the White Paper’s publication: “The UK Gambling Act Review is an important step towards having a robust regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age and creates a level playing field for all operators.
“We welcome the clarity that it will bring to the industry and customers.”
Peter Jackson, chief executive of Flutter Entertainment, whose brands include Paddy Power and Betfair, said at the time: “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.