Following the publication of the Government’s White Paper on Gambling Regulation ‘High Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age’, the Gambling Related Harm APPG is today launching a new inquiry. The purpose of this inquiry is to:
- Assess and analyse the measures in the Government’s White Paper ‘High Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age’, and set out recommendations for the government to inform the consultation phase;
- Hold the Government to account and ensure reforms are taken forward as quickly as possible;
- Ensure that where commitments have been made in the White Paper to legislate ‘when parliamentary time allows’, that these commitments are taken forward as a priority including the attribution of greater powers to the Gambling Commission to ensure enforcement.
The APPG has championed the case for bringing our gambling regulation into the digital age. Our key focus has been on modernising and developing regulation in the online gambling industry which has rapidly evolved since the 2005 Gambling Act, without sufficient regulation. We were therefore pleased to see the Government commit to take forward reforms in key areas including:
- New calls on operators to conduct checks to understand if a customer’s gambling is likely to be unaffordable and harmful;
- A commitment by the Gambling Commission to consult on mandating participation in a cross-operator harm prevention system based on data sharing;
- Proposals to consult on updating design rules for online products;
- Proposed stake limits for online slots;
- A commitment to consult on implementing potential improvements to player- set deposit limits such as making them mandatory of opt-out rather than opt-in;
- Proposals to review the design and targeting of incentives such as free bets and bonuses;
- Greater funding and powers to be given to the Gambling Commission;
- The essential introduction of a statutory levy to be paid by operators and collected and distributed by the Gambling Commission under the direction and approval of ministers;
- The introduction of an ombudsman that will be fully independent of the industry, and;
- Greater protections for young people including measures preventing the use of Category D cash slot machines.
We were also disappointed to see the relatively weak proposals set out on restrictions to gambling advertising including for White Label and Affiliate products. Much more must be done on advertising to protect children and young people.
The APPG will be holding evidence sessions looking at the measures set out above.
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the Gambling Related Harm APPG said:
“Whilst we entirely welcome many of the proposals set out in the White Paper, and are pleased the Government has listened to our calls for reform, there is clearly more work to be done. The APPG will now seek to inform the Government with further evidence and analysis during the important consultation phase, and ensure that measures and commitments made, that will help save lives, are implemented as a priority.”
We would also welcome evidence or submissions to the APPG by the 11th July 2023 to inform our thinking and recommendations specifically around:
- What is the optimal stake limit for harmful online slot content and how online game design should be modified to prevent harm including opt-out deposit limits?
- How the Statutory Levy should be operated and administered?
- How should affordability checks be operated and what are the proposed parameters set out by the government?
- What is the optimal system for data sharing?
- How an Ombudsman should be operated and administered?
- What further steps should be taken to protect children and young people from Gambling advertising?
The APPG will also continue to scrutinise further areas of potential harm, including those not included within the remit of the White Paper, such as the operation of the National Lottery and the emergence of new forms of gambling.
The APPG’s priorities are listed below. Members pushed for these recommendations as part of the Gambling Review and, where possible, for earlier action. There should be:
- Effective affordability checks for gamblers to prevent harm
- An enforceable “duty of care” on the gambling industry to seek to avoid harm
- Speed of play and stake limits for on-line gambling – with a triennial review of all stake limits
- Testing for harm and the classification of all new gambling products
- A mandatory “smart” levy on the industry to fund the costs of research, education and treatment
- A ban on direct marketing and all inducements and an end sports sponsorship
- A Gambling Ombudsman to redress wrongs
- Gambling regulation for Loot Boxes, which develop gambling in children
- A Reform of “VIP schemes”
- An NHS-led and commissioned treatment system to treat gambling addiction.