After months of delays and revisions, the UK’s long-awaited government Gambling White Paper has been published by law makers, with Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer officially announcing the reforms in the House of Commons today.
Government Gambling White Paper: What Does it Mean For Operators and Bettors?
Many of the finer details of ministers’ gambling reform had been divulged through a series of leaks to the press over the past several months, but the official announcement is a welcomed one for charities and campaigners.
In what is undoubtedly the biggest shake-up to the UK’s gambling industry, both operators and bettors themselves will be subject to more stringent regulations, in the hopes of massively reducing the number of problems gamblers across the country, thought to be as many as 300,000.
Perhaps the most controversial detail to emerge is the introduction of affordability checks, which 65% of bettors opposed in a recent study conducted by YouGov and OLGB. This will see users forced to supply evidence of their earnings in order to prove they can continue to bet, thus eliminating the risk of gambling-induced debt.
These have already began to drip feed through on some platforms, which is estimated to have cost horse racing millions of pounds in revenue according to senior figures within the sport.
Players will also be restricted from placing more than £15 per-spin online under the government’s new guidelines, with no current restrictions applied to maximum stakes.
Elsewhere, operators themselves will be be subject to a whole host of changes, most notably the introduction of a statutory levy which will help fund treatment programmes for those struggling with debt and gambling addiction, and hold companies accountable for the darker side of wagering.
Furthermore, free bet bonus offers and promotions will be subject to harsher controls, if they are to be found to be targeting those who fall under most-at-risk groups.
However, an expected blanket ban gambling advertising was a surprise exclusion from the white paper, despite Premier League clubs already confirming they had agreed to a voluntary ban on the front of their shirts.
Nearly half of all British adults bet every month, but with around 1.8million at risk of harm, and 300,000 currently in the midst of addition or debt, the government’s stance has been welcomed by the vast majority of operators and keen bettors.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer told ministers: “When gambling becomes addiction, it can wreck lives. Shattered families, lost jobs, foreclosed homes, jail time, suicide.
“Gambling problems in adults have always been measured in terms of money lost, but you cannot put a cost on the loss of dignity, the loss of identity, and, in some cases, the loss of life that it can cause.”
Shadow minister for Labour Alex Davies-Jones labelled the reforms “very light in substance” and bemoaned the significant delays to its publication.