In an effort to update legislation in light of the surge in online and mobile betting, Britain unveiled long-awaited steps to combat problem gambling on Thursday.
The ideas call for tighter affordability checks on clients, new online stake limits ranging from 2 to 15 pounds, and a new statutory tax on betting companies to pay for problem gambler research, education, and treatment.
“A flutter is one thing, unchecked addiction is another; so today we are bringing our pre-smartphone regulations into the present day with a gambling White Paper (policy document) for the digital age,” said Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, in a statement to parliament.
On the amount of the charge and its composition, the government declared that it will consult.
The changes would give gambling authorities the authority to shut down unauthorized operators and unlawful betting sites. Additionally, they plan to create stronger safeguards for players under the age of 25 and restrict bonus offerings like free bets and spins.
Charity Gambling with Lives, a campaign organization that helps families who have lost loved ones to gambling-related suicide, praised the modifications but felt they might be improved upon.
All gambling advertising was to be banned, and checks on affordability were to be made at 100 pounds in monthly losses.
The government’s plan calls for the most thorough tests to begin operating at a net loss of 1,000 pounds within 24 hours or 2,000 pounds within 90 days.
Gambling with Lives co-founder Liz Ritchie, who lost her son Jack to gambling-related suicide, stated, “We’ve won concessions on some of the key areas, but so much more needs to happen to reduce the horrendous harm caused by one of the most loosely regulated gambling industries in the world.”
Since the 2005 Gambling Act, the 14 billion pound business has undergone the most transformation thanks to the changes. Since then, with the exponential growth of internet betting, habits have altered substantially.
That transition was accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns, which led to significantly larger profits for gambling businesses like Entain (ENT.L), the owner of the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, and Flutter Entertainment (FLTRF.L), a Dublin-based business that operates Paddy Power and Betfair.
Two of the biggest gambling businesses in the world, Entain and Flutter, praised the ideas and stated they would carefully consider them.
The government said that it would also assist the more established “land-based” gambling industry, including casinos and arcades, by relaxing what it called “overly restrictive” restrictions so they could add additional gaming machines.
Stuart Andrew, the minister of gambling, stated that the government intended to implement the amendments by the summer of the next year, although the opposition Labour Party pushed the government to pass legislation before parliament breaks for the summer in July.
Campaign groups believe that up to 1.4 million people in Britain are gambling addicts, with 500 people in England alone taking their own lives each year as a result of their addiction. The government estimates that there are about 300,000 problem gamblers in the country.
The William Hill group, which is controlled by online gaming business 888 (888.L), received a record 19.2 million pound penalties from the Gambling Commission as a result of problematic practices in the gambling industry.
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