A recent in-depth MP-led inquiry into the state of online casino gambling within the UK has resulted in calls for a ‘radical industry overhaul’. While the somewhat scathing report has come as a shock to many, both within the online casino industry and those outside of it, we take a closer look at what the report actually means, and what the recommendation put forward by the MP actually are.
One of the main criticisms to come out of the inquiry and subsequent report, is that, according to the MP, the current legislation governing online casinos could best be described as ‘analogue legislation in a digital age’. In other words, the current legislation needs to be transformed to better suit the massive jumps in digital technology which have occurred over the past few years.
In fact, the group of MP’s behind the inquiry and report, have even gone so far as to state that the gambling laws governing the industry require a “root and branch overhaul”. This starts with new stake limits on betting of £2 (maximum betting limits) similar to those that were imposed on fixed odds betting terminals or FOBT’s a few years ago. The MP’s behind the findings and recommendations also believe that Boris Johnson would be ‘sympathetic’ to the recommendations.
The in-depth report covered a great deal of ground and featured members from multiple parties including high profile Conservative MP’s like Iain Duncan Smith. However, despite the many differences, the members of various parties all agreed that a range of new measures would need to be implemented as a matter of urgency in order to protect ‘vulnerable people’.
Some of the recommended measures that really stood out included:
In addition, the report suggested the replacement of the old Gambling Act of 2005, similar to the calls made by the Labour Party earlier this year. The report found that the old Gambling Act was simply not equipped to deal with today’s digital gambling industry and called it “an analogue legislation in a digital age”. Today’s digital gambling industry nets over £5 billion annually, and that figure is predicted to rise substantially over the coming year.
Members of the APPG or All-party Parliamentary Group tasked to deal with gambling-related harm, all believe that the group is formidable enough to actually influence current gambling policy for the better, and that has nothing to do with the results of the general election.
In fact, the Labour Party has already changed tact in favour of a stricter policy. This flies in the face of previous liberal views (under Tony Blair) of the gambling industry. Many also believe that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would, in turn, also be in favour of a stricter approach to gambling legislation going forward. You may recall that, when Johnson was MP, he criticised the then government openly regarding a proposed delay on FOBT restrictions.
While the report is far reaching and expansive, there are certainly aspects that standout in terms of how this proposed legislation could directly affect the gambling industry as a whole, as well as UK citizens that choose to gamble online.
Perhaps the most obvious of these is the proposed £2 maximum bet restriction across the board on all online slot games. The new maximum bet proposal is similar to the ban made on the £100-a-spin option available on fixed odds betting terminals made earlier in the year.
In addition, the report calls for mandatory checks on whether gamblers can actually afford to gamble online, before being allowed access, and a total ban on the use of credit card use for financing gambling. The proposed restriction on so-called “VIP” accounts, where gamblers are permitted to go into huge debt based on gambling incentives, may also go a long way in curbing financial and social issues related to gambling addiction and abuse.