UK White Paper Sets Restrictions But Lacks Detail

April 27, 2023
The new UK white paper gambling reform document sets out restrictive proposals, but leaves details on key issues such as stakes limits and a mandatory levy out for consultations.


The new UK white paper gambling reform document sets out restrictive proposals, but leaves details on key issues such as stakes limits and a mandatory levy out for consultations.

The document proposes £2 to £15 stake limits on online slots and suggests that 18 to 24 year olds will get lower limits, but specifics are left for later.

It proposes tiered checks on affordability, with anyone losing more than £125 a month or £500 in a year facing checks on whether they have filed for bankruptcy, or have county court judgements against them.

Culture minister Lucy Frazer estimated this would affect 20 percent of gamblers, but claimed most checks would be "frictionless" and happen behind the scenes.

Gamblers that lose £1,000 or more a day or £2,000 within 90 days, face more detailed banking and income checks, according to the white paper.

Those limits could be halved for 18 to 24 year olds, depending on further consultations.

It proposes a statutory levy for research, education and treatment, but leaves to future consultations the details on what percent of gross gaming yield, or other metric, would be targeted.

There would be an independent ombudsman to review cases of individual harm or social responsibility.

The paper also loosens caps on gaming machines in land-based casinos and bingo venues, and calls for a consultation on cashless spending options.

The document estimates that key proposals will lead to a 3 percent to 8 percent reduction in gross gambling yield across the industry, with the main decrease coming in online gambling, where the drop would be between 8 percent and 14 percent.

The Gambling Commission is also set to gain new powers and funding, but again most specifics are left for later discussion.

The white paper is a review of the 2005 Gambling Act, making recommendations that would place new restraints on online and smartphone gambling, as well as addressing land-based gambling.

The lack of specific detail on issues such as the proposed statutory levy might annoy both the industry craving certainty for planning purposes and those pressing for much tighter restrictions.

Safer gambling advocates have been pressing for least 1 percent of revenue earmarked for research, treatment and prevention of harm.

Currently, the industry has a voluntary standard of 0.1 percent of gross gaming revenue, which netted GambleAware £13.2m in the nine months ended December 31, 2022.

Some of the proposals are apparently less restrictive than what might have been recommended by previous governments.

The Financial Times today claimed it had seen an earlier white paper draft presented to ex-prime minister Boris Johnson — a draft, which suggested a £2 to £5 stake limit on online casino games.

Some gambling companies have already set lower limits in anticipation of restrictions, such as a £10 limit on stakes.

The white paper has come via a circuitous route.

Since the review was launched in December 2020, there have been three different Prime Ministers, five cultural secretaries and six gambling ministers.

This morning, Frazer called gambling apps a “a trapdoor to despair and isolation” for some.

"From football accumulators to the Grand National, the odd flutter is something millions enjoy," she said, "but advances in tech means we all now have a casino in our pockets".

Speaking in parliament, Frazer said the new regulation would address "blindspots" in the law.

"At the heart of our Review is making sure that we have the balance right between consumer freedoms and choice on the one hand, and protection from harm on the other. It has become clear that we must do more to protect those at risk of addiction and associated unaffordable losses," she said.

Now Read This: UK Lawmakers Demand Urgency On White Paper Changes

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