UK Gambling White Paper Unveiled: Key Measures Outlined

The much-anticipated UK Gambling White Paper addressing the country’s gambling regulations has been published, proposing online slot stake limitations and the implementation of a statutory levy.

Online Sector Updates

Proposed online slot stake limits range from £2 to £15. Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announced additional proposals and consultations to enhance protections for players aged 18-24. The DCMS stated that the statutory gambling levy will require operators to contribute to treatment services and research funding, including through the NHS.

Further Player Protections

Efforts to safeguard vulnerable customers include “frictionless” player checks are envisioned by the UK Gambling White Paper, and the Gambling Commission will receive expanded authority to combat the black market. A new industry ombudsman will handle disputes and rule on cases involving customer losses due to operator shortcomings. The DCMS also aims to establish a clear distinction between adult gambling products and lower-risk products for children.

Land-Based Sector Changes

The white paper outlines several changes for the land-based sector, including a push for improved age verification in high street venues with over-18 machines. Legislative support will be provided for voluntary measures prohibiting under-18s from using Category D cash-out slot machines, such as coin grabbers. Additionally, select casinos will be allowed to increase their gaming machine count up to 80, while smaller casinos will receive more machines proportionally based on size and non-gambling space.

Additional land-based sector proposals include

  • Permitting casinos of all sizes to offer sports betting.
  • Allowing casinos to provide credit to international visitors following strict checks to maintain international competitiveness.
  • Consultations on developing cashless payment options.
  • Discussions on potential conditions and legislation for bingo halls to offer side bets.
  • Adjusting the 80/20 ratio governing the balance of Category B and C/D machines in bingo and arcade venues to 50/50 to ensure customer choice and flexibility.
  • The government plans to expedite these proposals through parliament

EOGL will closely monitor the effects of the UK Gambling White Paper in the forthcoming period.

As of mid-2020, UK public policy agents and campaigners were hopeful the UK Gambling White Paper would include plans for affordability checks and the introduction of a statutory levy on gambling operators to pay for research, education and treatment of problem gambling met in the white paper.

Other measures hoped to feature include a reduction in stakes for online slot games to match those found in land-based gambling and the creation of a gambling ombudsman to deal with customer complaints.

The Government launched its gambling review in December 2020 but publication of the subsequent white paper has been the subject of repeated delays due to a succession of ministerial changes.

UK Trade Associations’ Response

It is important to understand that in the UK as much as 110,000 jobs rely heavily on the regulated betting and gaming industry, and the 22.5 million people who enjoy a bet each month.

In the following period, there will be a plenty of impact analyses of the proposals, hoping a good model of wide-ranging package of balanced, proportionate and effective reforms will be set for other markets as well.

The UK’s most prominent betting operators generate £7.1 billion for the economy and raise £4.2 billion in tax every year, and the measures announced today are expected to protect jobs and sustain that vital contribution.

Betting companies in UK will now work with Government and the Gambling Commission to deliver effective spending checks to further protect the vulnerable categories, as well as new Ombudsman to improve consumer redress, and overdue plans to modernize the regulation of UK casinos as well.

The moral of the story around the UK Gambling White Paper should, nevertheless, be that betting and gaming are broadly popular and in vast majority of players – responsible entertainment, contrary to misconceptions.

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