UK Plans Reportedly Include 'Passive' Affordability Checks, 'Smart Stake' Limits

July 14, 2022
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​​​​​​​The most recent draft of the pivotal UK white paper includes provisions for “passive” affordability checks, “smart stake” limits and a ban on targeting of bonuses based on spending, according to a gambling trade publication.

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The most recent draft of the pivotal UK white paper includes provisions for “passive” affordability checks, “smart stake” limits and a ban on targeting of bonuses based on spending, according to a gambling trade publication.

A draft of proposed changes to the 2005 Gambling Act calls for checks on affordability set at £125 within a month and £500 within a year, according to the Earnings+More newsletter, which cited “well-placed sources”.

“Smart stakes” on online slots would be set at £2 to £5 per spin, with an upper limit of £10 to £25 per spin after increased checks, according to the publication.

The white paper also recommends banning online VIP programmes and targeting of online bonuses, such as free bets, if they are based on player spend or losses, the publication said.

The supposed leak of information from the long-delayed white paper comes as yet another member of parliament in charge of gambling issues will be named, following the resignation of Chris Philp last week.

Philp was among more than 50 top government officials resigning, in a development that led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to resign.

Damian Collins was appointed an undersecretary of state at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) last Friday, but it is not yet clear whose responsibility will include gambling issues.

An MP formerly in charge of gambling policy is also an undersecretary for the DCMS, Nigel Huddleston.

A DCMS spokesperson said the white paper will be issued “in the coming weeks”. Whoever is named to replace Philp would have the authority to review the white paper for possible changes, they said.

According to Earnings+More, passive or automated and “largely frictionless” checks would come after net losses exceed those monthly or annual limits, and players who have been cleared by the checks would be allowed to wager higher limits on slots.

Checks of a player’s financial position, including screening for court judgments, would be done via credit check agencies or open banking facilities.

“We are clear it is not the government's, the Gambling Commission’s or industry’s place to examine every facet of [the] individual’s finances and make value judgements about what and what isn’t affordable,” the document says.

The Earnings+More report is far from the only purported leak about the much-delayed white paper.

Earlier this month, the Racing Post said the guidepost for increased checks would be £2,000 over a 90-day period, a threshold that it said would cost the British racing industry millions in lost revenue from the betting industry.

The Times had a report on the white paper that said land-based casinos would be allowed more slot machines.

Earnings+More said at least some casinos would be able to offer sports betting and Mayfair, London, casinos that cater to high-rollers would be able to offer credit to international visitors who have “undergone stringent checks”.

The Gambling Commission and government will also “explore the possibility” of mandatory deposit limits, according to the newsletter. The so-called smart stakes for online slots would only be applied to online slots and would be introduced in consultations this autumn.

The higher limits would be available on request and after enhanced affordability checks, the publication said. On free bets, a consultation would consider maximum wagering requirements and minimum time limits.

The government is also “not convinced” affiliates should be licensed and the Gambling Commission would get powers to set its own fees, along with the power to require bulk data from licensees to identify licence violations, the publication said.

An ombudsman to address gambling complaints will be considered in the autumn consultation, Earnings + More said.

A 1 percent levy would be assessed and paid to the Gambling Commission under the direction of the DCMS, the newsletter said.

Scott Longley, a principal at Earnings + More, said the publication talked to individuals with knowledge of the white paper draft that Philp said he had submitted to 10 Downing Street, home and office of the Prime Minister, before leaving office.

His report cites claims that a second draft of the report has already been drafted.

“It’s a process of negotiation between the industry, the Gambling Commission and DCMS,” Longley told VIXIO. “Nothing is written in stone yet."

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