UK begins gambling legislation review

UK begins gambling legislation review

The government has officially launched a review of the 2005 Gambling Act with many new restrictions on the table.

UK.- The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a comprehensive review of British gambling legislation that will consider a wide range of new restrictions and requirements for the industry.

The review is expected to result in the biggest overhaul of the industry since the 2005 Gambling Act passed during the premiership of Tony Blair.

The government has already announced that it will increase the minimum age for National Lottery products from 16 to 18 by October 2021.

Other changes on the table include limits on stakes, winnings and speed of play for online casinos, advertising and sponsorship restrictions and more player protection obligations. 

The DCMS has launched a call for evidence that will remain open until March 31 and will inform its review.

It said: “The findings will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.

“The government recognises the need to balance the enjoyment people get from gambling with the right regulatory framework and protections.”

Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “While millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age.

“From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed. 

“This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.”

The Gambling Commission’s funding and powers will also come under scrutiny after being blasted as “not fit for purpose” by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling-Related Harm earlier in the year.

Some have called for the creation of a new ombudsman to oversee customer complaints against operators. 

The APPG welcomed the launch of the review. The group’s chair Carolyn Harris said: “I hope we are at a turning point in the reform of our wholly outdated gambling legislation. 

“Too many families are impacted by gambling related harm and we must protect those most at risk through legislation and policy change.”

She added: “Gamblers need an ombudsman to support redress and statutory levy must be put in place to support research, education and treatment. The regulator must also be overhauled. 

“This is a once in a generation chance to improve much needed gambling regulation in this country and change cannot come soon enough.”

APPG vice-chair Iain Duncan Smith said: “The deregulated gambling industry has, throughout the last few years, paid only lip-service to the nature of the damage that has been done to people up and down the country. 

“It is quite clear that we can no longer allow the industry to regulate itself and it is time, therefore, for balance to be restored, particularly now the advent of new technology has meant that gambling has never been easier to access or promote than it is now.”

The House of Lords’ Peers for Gambling Reform also backed the review, as a chance to introduce the changes proceed by a House of Lords Select Committee earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the industry association the Betting and Gaming Council said it hoped the review would be evidence-led and would build on its own work on safer gambling. 

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the launch of the government’s review.

 “We called for it to be wide-ranging and evidence-led, and it provides an important opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling introduced by the industry in the past year.”

He added: “The review must also take account of the huge economic contribution made by the betting and gaming industry, which employs over 100,000 people.

“This includes £8.7bn a year in gross value added and over £3.2bn to HM Treasury in tax. In addition, horse racing receives over £350m per year through the horse racing industry levy, media rights and sponsorships, while betting companies spend over £40m a year on the English Football League and its clubs. 

“Other sports, including rugby league, snooker and darts also receive millions of pounds in sponsorship from our members, while casinos contribute over £120m to the tourism economy each year.”

Dugher welcomed DCMS’ decision to raise the minimum age for National Lottery products to the same level as other gambling products. 

He said: “Our members do not allow betting by under-18s, so we welcome in particular confirmation of the government’s decision to ban 16 and 17-year-olds from playing the National Lottery. It’s got to be one rule for all.”