The wait for the White Paper on gambling law reform continues. It’s possible that the recent happenings in Downing Street might delay its release even further. Even though the levels of problem gambling in the UK have fallen, it’s clear that the 2005 Gambling Act still needs reforming.
Think back to the way we used to gamble in 2005 compared to the current situation. It’s completely different due to the arrival of online gambling sites, new forms of casino bonuses and being able to gamble using paypal.
The ability to be able to place bets at all times of the day has caused many problems. If someone is struggling to cope with the way they gamble, being able to do so at all times of the day makes that struggle even harder.
There are no suggestions that online sites will have their opening hours cut but action against them looks inevitable. Chris Philp was the Tory MP with responsibility over gambling laws until he resigned last week. He had already spoken about how he feels online casinos and slots are the areas that worry him most.
His resignation letter called for the government to continue with the plan to reform the UK’s gambling laws. It indicated that strong measures are on the way for the gambling industry but what might they be?
One area could be in reducing the maximum stake that can be made on online casino games. In recent years, this has already been imposed on the gambling machines seen in High Street bookmakers shops.
That move hit the finances of bookmakers and some blamed the move on redundancies that followed. If the maximum stake at online casinos was reduced, then that’s not going to hit their finances.
Affordability checks are also likely to be strengthened. Can a player who is losing large amounts actually afford to? It might be ok for a millionaire to lose £10,000 at an online casino but not so for someone who only earns £50,000 a year.
Putting in place legislation that could see checks on the bank accounts of gamblers won’t be popular. The fear is that it will see players heading to unregulated sites and that would put them at more risk of fraud.
The target any legislation has is to protect gamblers but not ruin the enjoyment the vast majority of players have on such sites. It’s a balance that may be hard to achieve.
Another area that may be targeted is sponsorship and advertising. There are critics aplenty who want to see the days when gambling companies sponsor sports teams and events come to an end. It’s similar to the situation when the tobacco industry was heavily involved in sports sponsorship.
It’s unlikely the government will place an outright ban on such sponsorship by gambling companies. The hope is that the clubs themselves will make a voluntary agreement to do so. Will that happen though?
Crystal Palace have switched to Cinch for their front-of-shirt sponsors but Everton and Bournemouth have new gambling related deals. The English Football League is sponsored by Sky Bet. Just ending that deal would cost them around £40 million and finding a replacement wouldn’t be easy.
Reducing the number of gambling adverts would also cost companies a great deal of money with awareness of their product hit. Whatever the White Paper contains, it’s not going to be good news for the gambling industry.
Please play responsibly. For more information and advice visit https://www.begambleaware.org