Should the UK Gambling Industry Prepare for Major Changes?
June 16th, 2020 1.00pm
A group of MPs strongly believes that the British gambling industry needs an overhaul of its regulation, as at this point it simply fails to serve its purpose.
The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), consisting of 50 MPs, has spent a whole year probing into the country online gambling industry, and the final report, revealed the results of their thorough investigation.
An Overhaul of the Current Regulations is Necessary
The report itself is very critical of the current state of the UK gambling industry and gives guidelines and recommendations on how to improve the current situation.
According to available information, the report made a total of 30 recommendation, aimed at overhauling the country’s gambling industry. It suggests the introduction of a £2 stake limit on all online slot games, and at the same time calls on the regulator to completely ban all VIP schemes and inducements made by operators.
But that’s not the only ban suggested by the APPG report, as this piece of paper also recommends a ban on gambling advertising in general.
It also advocates the introduction of affordability limits, and call on the UKGC to do so as soon as possible. When it comes to consumer protection, one of the recommendations calls on the authorities to appoint a Gambling Ombudsman.
These are only suggestions, but it should be noted that some of the previous suggestions have been successfully implemented. The APPG has so far managed to introduce a ban on credit card wagering and a stake restriction on FOBTs.
The group’s chair, Carolyn Harris, stated the latest initiative was focused on improving the state of the gambling industry in the UK, as it was obvious that it couldn’t regulate itself, at least not in an effective manner.
She explained that due to the fact it resisted change in the past, the industry had destroyed many lives. Harris went on to say that driven be profit, only limited changes could be put forward. As the government is currently working on an update of the country’s gambling legislation, there is a chance that some of these recommendations could be taken into consideration.
Kenny Alexander, Chief Executive Officer at GVC said in a recent interview that new restrictions on operators could drive players to the black market. Coincidentally or not, this warning came amid the ongoing talks of the gambling industry overhaul.
Could These Changes Backfire?
According to Alexander, imposing limits on online wagers could backfire, forcing punters to turn to unlicensed operators, where there is no consumer protection.
The UK has one of the lowest proportions of customers betting with unlicensed operators in the world, but still, the country’s black market generates revenue of around £1.4 billion – every year. All of the countries that decided to impose strict rules have faced a significant rise unlicensed gambling, which in turn led to the increase in problem gambling, which is by up to 150% more common in the black market. Alexander said France and Australia were the perfect examples of this.
The UK Gambling Commission made a diplomatic response, saying it was committed to creating a less harmful gambling environment.
In the meantime, the Betting and Gaming Council, as the representer of the largest online operators doing business in the UK, pointed out the success of the improvements made over the last couple of years. The statement issued by the BGC also points out that there was no evidence of a rise in problem gambling.
The BGC emphasized the efforts made by its members since this organization was founded last year. The list of achievements made by the trade group includes a massive rise in funding for programs dealing with problem gambling as well as restrictions in advertising, voluntarily imposed by members.
APPG recommends a ban on gambling advertising in general.