UK to begin Gambling Act review

UK to begin Gambling Act review

The British government is expected to open a review on gambling legislation this week.

UK.- The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is expected to start its review of Britain’s 2005 Gambling Act this week, opening up what is likely to lead to the most significant reform of UK gaming legislation since the era of Tony Blair’s premiership.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a manifesto pledge to review British gaming legislation during his campaign for election last year. It has more recently suggested that he will take a personal interest in the review itself.

The review, expected to be announced this week, will look at all current gambling rules with an eye to implement wholesale reforms to update consumer protections for the digital age.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that DCMS will publish terms of reference for the review this week, outlining criteria that a Whitehall source has described as “a reformists shopping list”.

Cross-party groups in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons have carried out evaluations of the gaming sector and put forward a range of proposals, including a ban on betting sponsorship in sport and online casino stake limits in line with the £2 stake limits introduced for fixed-odds gaming machines in 2019.

It has been reported that the review will consider these and other proposals affecting almost every aspect of current gaming legislation.

Other proposals include limits on prizes, losses and spin speeds for online casinos, tight affordability checks and an obligation for operators to pool information on customers, tests for new products, limits on advertising and promotions, legal redress for wronged punters and a mandatory levy to fund addiction treatment.

The review will also assess the Gambling Commission’s role as regulator following criticism from MPs of its close relationship with operators.

The Gambling Commission has repeatedly said that it is underfunded, while some politicians have called for the creation of a new ombudsman for the industry.

MPs have demanded that as part of the review the DCMS raise the minimum age for the purchase of lottery products from 16 to 18, something that the current operator, Camelot, has said would take a year to implement.

Conscious of the calls for change, industry group the Betting and Gaming Council has been proactive in implementing new measures for its members in a bid to head off calls for overly restrictive changes to legislation.

Members committed to a new advertising code last year, which included a whistle-to-whistle ban on betting advertising during sports broadcasts.

A BGC spokesperson said: “It is important that the review is evidence-led and strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable, while not spoiling the enjoyment of the estimated 30 million people who enjoy a bet at least once a month – the vast majority of whom do so perfectly safely – and driving them into the arms of the unregulated online black market.”