Gambling Commission to Consider Wagering Limits for Online Games

February 13th, 2020 10.00am

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the country’s gambling watchdog, has announced it seriously considering the possibility of limiting the size of online betting wagers. This proposal was initially revealed at a committee hearing held earlier this week.

According to Neil McArthur, Chief Executive Officer at the UKGC explained this proposal would be seriously considered in the coming period and pointed out the final decision would be made this year, within 6 months at most. The move needs to be carefully reviewed before any actual changes are made, that’ for sure.

Getting in Line with FOBTs

Last November was a catastrophic period of gambling companies in the UK after MPs called for the introduction of online slot games bet limit. A £2 per bet was meant to make conform the size of online slot games wagers to the limit found on gaming machines in betting shops. Shares went down, with the sector losing £1.2 billion. Commenting on this measure, MPs stated its goal was to help address the gambling addiction crisis in the country.

Carolyn Harris, chair of the parliamentary committee on gambling-related harm stated the proposal was long overdue, but nevertheless she expressed her pleasure that UKGC had finally decided to make this bold step.

She emphasized the importance of reducing online slot games wagers to £2 per spin, as it would be in line with the current rules imposed in betting shops across the UK. Harris also added that the Gambling Commission needed to take decisive action in order to ensure the vulnerable were protected from the harms of online gambling.

A Year Full of Regulatory Changes

During 2019, the country’s gambling industry had seen several new regulations enter into effect, including much stricter age verification, and higher taxes.

Back in April, the maximum stake allowed on electronic slot machines, also known as fixed-odds betting terminals was reduced from £100 to a mere £2. This was done as these machines were known to be very addictive, earning the nickname “the crack cocaine of gambling”.

This change in the existing gambling legislation was expected, as the Conservatives put it in their election manifesto. However, many fear that strict online regulations could have a negative impact on the British industry.

But the proponents of the new regulations pointed out that such a change was necessary and long overdue, as the current legal framework was outdated and not suitable for the digital age. That’s why they believe the proposed changes will be beneficial for both customers and the industry in general.

Commenting on the Gambling Act review, James Noyes, explained it made no sense that there was no limit for online gambling, especially since there was one for physical machines. He stated that fixed categories needed to be present in online games as well.

Making Sure Not to Drive Players to the Black Market

Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, the single industry association representing more than 90% of the country’s gambling industry, Brigid Simmons, stated the move wasn’t an unexpected one.

She pointed out the importance of preserving the quality of the online gaming industry in the United Kingdom but explained that in a competitive world a single wrong move could drive customers into the black market. Simmons added no one wanted such a scenario in this case.

A report, recently published by PwC, and funded by the UK gambling industry, revealed that the country’s unregulated market generated nearly £1.4 billion in turnover in 2019, with more than 200,000 gambled using illegal online gambling websites.

UKGC didn’t comment on these figures.

 

 


Many fear that strict online regulations could have a negative impact on the British industry.