May 15, 2023
The Government says that under its reforms, which aim to make gambling rules fit for the digital age, those at risk of gambling-related harm will be better protected. The reforms are necessary, it says, as although betting companies are already required to prevent harm, there have been repeated instances where they have allowed losses which most people could never afford. According to the Government, the new measures will “shield players in the grip of addiction from harm and hold gambling firms to account when they fail in their responsibility”. The reforms include:
- a statutory gambling operator levy to ensure that operators help fund treatment services and research, including through the NHS;
- new stake limits for online slots games that will be between £2 and £15 per spin; the Government will also consult on measures to give greater protections for 18–24-year-olds who the evidence shows are at heightened risk of harm;
- frictionless player protection checks to protect those most at risk of harm before unaffordable or harmful losses are incurred;
- extra powers for the Gambling Commission to enable it to tackle black market operators through court orders and work with internet service providers (ISPs) to take down and block illegal gambling sites;
- rules to prevent bonus offers harming vulnerable people, e.g. looking at how free bets or spins are constructed and targeted to stop them being harmful;
- closing loopholes to make sure under-18s cannot gamble either online or via cash fruit machines and bringing football pools betting in line with National Lottery play for over-18s only;
- a new industry ombudsman to deal with disputes and rule on redress where a customer suffers losses due to an operator failing in their player protection duties; and
- a review of the current horserace betting levy to make certain racing continues to thrive.
The White Paper and proposals follow a call for evidence and are based on nearly 16,000 written submissions sent to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) during the process. The Government says that they build on its recent work with the Gambling Commission and others to ban the use of credit cards in gambling, introduce tighter age verification checks for betting online and cutting the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 per spin.
The White Paper also follows the Premier League’s voluntary decision to ban gambling advertising from the front of clubs’ shirts from the end of the 2025/2026 season and includes proposals for all major sports governing bodies to sign up to a cross-sport Code of Practice on gambling sponsorship. It will be designed to improve standards where gambling sponsorship is prevalent in sport similar to what is in place in the alcohol industry.
The Government also says that the White Paper will support the land-based gambling sector, including casinos, arcades and bingo halls, while maintaining safeguards to protect vulnerable groups. Bingo halls, seaside arcades and casinos create employment, generate tourism and provide entertainment. Outdated and overly restrictive rules on gaming machines will be reformed so casinos and arcades can have more machines. The Government will consult on the protections needed for gaming machines to be able to accept cashless payments directly.
In response to publication of the White Paper, the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, Andrew Rhodes, said:
“The review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver positive change for gambling in Great Britain and for all people impacted by it. Everyone at the Commission welcomes today’s publication of the White Paper and is determined to work with government and partners to make these changes a reality.
“Given the correct powers and resources, the Gambling Commission can continue to make gambling safer, fairer and crime free. This White Paper is a coherent package of proposals which we believe can significantly support and protect consumers and improve overall standards in the industry.
“As the detailed implementation of the review now begins, we will also be reiterating to all operators that the Commission will strongly maintain its focus on consumer protection and compliance.”