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 UK Government’s gambling White Paper published on Thursday April 27.
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: “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: “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.