UK Gambling Ministers Tackle White Paper Worries

March 1, 2024
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The UK’s gambling minister and shadow gambling minister have addressed industry concerns around the details of implementing the Gambling Act white paper proposals, including financial risk checks.
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The UK’s gambling minister and shadow gambling minister have addressed industry concerns around the details of implementing the Gambling Act white paper proposals, including financial risk checks.

Gambling minister Stuart Andrew reassured members of the industry that the government won’t implement financial risk check proposals fully until it can guarantee they will be “frictionless”, during a speech at the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) annual general meeting on Thursday (February 29).

He urged BGC members for their input into an upcoming pilot for enhanced financial risk checks to “ensure it is a meaningful test of this policy”.

The minister believes the changes will be a “significant improvement” to “inconsistent” affordability checks and said the Gambling Commission will “consider all issues that arise during the pilot stage”.

Until checks are fully in place, the minister urged an agreement on an industry-led code “as soon as possible”.

With the government review of the Horserace Betting levy due in April 2024, Andrew also called on the betting and horseracing sectors to agree on a mutually beneficial deal to “ensure racing is appropriately funded going forward”.

Shadow gambling minister Stephanie Peacock said there is a “great deal of consensus” among politicians that gambling laws need to be updated and that “hopefully [the white paper proposals] will be taken forward regardless of the general election outcome”.

However, as the consultation period has progressed, the shadow minister said various issues have been raised about the implementation of certain proposals.

Peacock wants to make sure the financial risk checks work as intended to “make sure users are not driven to the unregulated black market”.

“I understand that further concerns have been raised about the rates the statutory levy has set for certain groups in the industry as well as how we ensure funds raised are used effectively to reduce harm. 

“We will monitor whether the consultation response can provide clarity on this and ensure unnecessary double charges are avoided, rates are set fairly and resources are spent wisely,” said Peacock.

She added that any future government should work with the National Lottery to ensure it takes “their fair share of responsibility for safer gambling”, highlighting how there is “frustration” in other sectors of the gambling industry that it is exempt from many voluntary and compulsory measures.

Gambling Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes also spoke at the event.

He acknowledged “there is always an inherent tension between the regulator and the industry it regulates as well as with a whole swathe of other interested parties who may have very strong views for what the regulator ought to do or not to do”.

“That does not mean that that relationship has to be adversarial. It can be one of collaboration, cooperation, and mutual interest,” Rhodes said.

Separately, the regulator launched the first wave of data from the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB), with an annual report set to be released in July 2024.

“The GSGB provides a consistent and frequent way of collecting data amongst adults in Great Britain and will provide regular data outputs in order to help us understand changes in gambling behaviour amongst the population and amongst sub population groups,” according to a blog post written by the Gambling Commission’s director of research and statistics, Ben Haden.

Some of the results in the latest wave of data include that 48 percent of adults in Great Britain had gambled in the past four weeks. Only 27 percent gambled after excluding people who only play National Lottery or other charity lottery draw-based games.

In the past four weeks, 38 percent of adults had gambled online and 29 percent had gambled in person.

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