Stricter Measures To Curb Gambling Addiction Gain Support in the UK

Major shake-up in the UK gambling industry is expected with new measures expected to be implemented.
Stricter Measures To Curb Gambling Addiction Gain Support in the UK
August 18, 2021

The creation of a new gambling consumer ombudsman and a ban on sports shirt sponsorship is set to be backed by ministers. This has been revealed in a news article by the Daily Mail on August 9.

New restrictions have gained support from ministers according to the information obtained by the United Kingdom’s highest-circulated daily newspaper. This includes a new gambling consumer ombudsman and the ban on sports shirt sponsorships, among others. The ban of VIP schemes to encourage losing customers with cash bonuses and other rewards is also part of the ongoing considerations.

Furthermore, the maximum available stakes on online slot games will likely be cut to £2, which would bring them in line with the gaming machines at brick-and-mortar bookmakers. The maximum permitted stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was cut from £100 to £2 back in 2018 already.

Especially the instant availability all around the clock in the online gambling industry is considered as one of the biggest risks to cause gambling addiction. The latest government review is set to announce further measures to combat the exposure of problem gamblers.

“The Gambling-Act is an analogue act for the digital age designed two years before smartphones. Now the majority of gambling is online and on phones,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was quoted by the Daily Mail. He essentially condemned Dowden that punters have a 24/7 “betting shop in your pocket”.

The latest review of the Gambling Act was sparked by a consultation in March 2021, which closed with 16,000 responses. According to the numbers quoted by the Daily Mail, there are 400,000 gambling addicts in the UK. Case numbers have increased during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which already caused the implementation of stricter measures and affordability checks for online gambling operators with a UK betting license.

Sources of the Daily Mail revealed that shirt sponsorships in sports are most certainly to be axed amidst the support among the ministers. They also mentioned that it seems very likely for online stakes to be brought in line with those for FOBTs. No definite plans have been made public yet but it is expected that a white paper with stricter measures will be published later in the year.

In a separate news article by the tabloid on August 8, the strategy of gambling giants to offer exclusive VIP services for losing players via dedicated managers has also caught the attention of the ministers as well. It was deemed as immoral and the practice has essentially been accused of causing and enhancing problem gambling.

An outright ban of such VIP managers appears to be among the hotly debated measures and may very well be suggested as part of the upcoming changes. Ongoing discussions to abolish the practice were welcomed by former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith according to the Daily Mail.

The tabloid also quoted a spokesman for the Betting and Gaming Council as follows: “The BGC, working with the Gambling Commission, has already taken tough action on VIP accounts, including the introduction of a strict new code of conduct which has seen the number of players enrolled reduced by 70 percent.”

Popular betting companies have previously been handed severe fines for applying similar grooming tactics in the UK, which are widely regarded as a strategy to encourage gamblers to bet more. If VIP managers were to be banned as part of the new Gambling Act review, it would further reduce the potential risk of addiction for vulnerable customers.

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