UK Review White Paper To Address Affordability, Online Stakes

November 19, 2021
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Affordability and online restrictions similar to those imposed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be looked at in the government's impending white paper on the Gambling Act review.

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Affordability and online restrictions similar to those imposed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be looked at in the government's impending white paper on the Gambling Act review.

Chris Philp, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said the white paper will be published “in the coming months”, during a House of Commons debate on Thursday (November 18).

Philp was responding to a question put forward by Carolyn Harris, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for gambling-related harm (APPG), who followed up by asking if there was an intention to introduce online stake limits at the same level as those on FOBTs.

Harris and the APPG have long called for limits for online gambling that would create parity with land-based venues, including a £2 stake on slot content.

Philp said the government is “acutely aware” FOBT restrictions could be applied online “in some way” and that work has already begun to see how that could be calibrated.

“I agree with the Public Health England (PHE) report that online gambling can often be a lot more pernicious and addictive than in-person gambling,” he said.

The PHE report released earlier this year urged the government to treat harmful gambling as a public health issue, estimating the cost to English society to be in excess of £1.27bn a year.

Fellow APPG member Iain Duncan Smith questioned if “abusive VIP rooms” where he said “companies deliberately target those who are gambling massively and losing massively to encourage them to gamble more and lose more” would also be seriously looked into.

Philp responded, saying “actively encouraging — indeed, even inciting — people to gamble more without reference to affordability or their ability to pay is a damaging practice. We certainly intend to address that through the white paper.”

Separately, the APPG celebrated the news that social media giant Facebook will remove certain ad targeting options and expand ad controls to include giving people the ability to opt-out of seeing gambling content early next year.

The APPG wrote an open letter to Facebook in March this year to raise concerns about the prominence of gambling advertising on the platform.

In the letter, the APPG pleaded for Facebook to at the very least introduce controls to block gambling advertising.

The Gambling Commission has previously worked with both Twitter and Facebook to produce guides which help consumers choose to restrict exposure to gambling-related content, if that is their wish.

A spokesperson for the Gambling Commission told VIXIO GamblingCompliance it supports “any media organisation providing simple and quick tools to empower its consumers to opt out of gambling related content if that is what they choose”.

Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, welcomed the news and similarly urged “all social media and search platforms to provide the ability for users to opt out of viewing betting adverts”.

“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling, unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards which are commonplace among BGC members,” Dugher said.

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