In the UK in the past century governments have introduced plenty of laws relating to gambling. Many have extended opening times for High Street shops, and in 2005 the Gambling Act made the UK one of the most liberal jurisidictions in the world for this popular pasttime. But all that may soon change with a new UK Gambling Act expected in 2021. In light of reports of high levels of problem gambling, the government is looking to create a safer environment for the public, with changes in how betting firms can advertise and run their operations.
Here are some of the areas in which stricter regulation can be expected.
Online gambling has grown expontentially in the last 30 years. People can sit at home and spend all day gambling if they want to. In such a highly competitive industry with pontentially huge profits , betting companies have been doing all they can to attract new customers.
Advert after advert now appears on the television, on the radio and in newspapers and magazines. A walk down the High Street will see you passing huge advertisements of the latest betting offers available. Shops and websites are desperate to get you through their doors and placing bets with them.
The affect of this proliferation of ads has been to ‘normalise’ gambling in public perceptions and make placing a bet as natural as buying a pint of milk. A new Gambling Act wil seek to reduce exposure to ads on TV, social media and in particular around sport.
Welcome offers and VIP programs are viewed by some as a significant problem that a future act will need to address. The offering of free bets, often with many restrictions, including high wagering requirements, will be reviewed. And VIP programs are considered by the UK Gambling Commission to increase at-risk behaviour as well as they target high value customers who are more likely to be problem gamblers. Aggressive sales tactics from VIP manager will surely be outlawed, and indeed VIP programs themselves may be banned.
Deposit and Stake Limits
Already, there has been action taken to stop credit cards being used on gambling sites. That’s a welcome move, but more action is likely in areas that can protect gamblers. More emphasis on deposit and stake limits is one way forward. If a player is beginning to show signs of a gambling problem, reducing how much they can stake is important. Some players tend to chase losses, and that is when putting more and more money into your account can cause serious problems.
Already in this area, there have been restrictions for High Street bookmakers. Action has been taken against the maximum stakes that can be made on fixed-odds betting terminals. Previously the maximum stake on these terminals was £100. Players could lose substantial amounts in a matter of minutes. Now the maximum stake has been reduced to £2.
On gambling websites the casinos are packed with online slot games on which you can place large amounts on just one spin. Your wages for the week could be lost in seconds. Action on the maximum stake on these games is likely to be on the agenda for a future UK gambling act and a similar £2 stake limit is on the cards.
There has to be a delicate balance in the new regulations that are introduced. Bookmakers have already spoken of the financial costs of reducing the maximum stake on fixed-odds terminals and they fear a similar impact from stake and deposit limits, and the suggested ban on promotions for high value customers online. At the same time there is a well-supported group of MPs who are pushing hard for this new gambling act to be the biggest shake up in regulation for decades. Indeed, the next gambling act is unlikely to put a smile on the face of bookmakers but will go some way to helping those struggling to control their gambling, and that is better for the long-term interests of the sector.