…By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
The UK government is expected to publish a White Paper on Thursday outlining its plans to regulate the gambling industry in the digital age.
Campaigners are optimistic that the proposals will include measures such as affordability checks and a statutory levy on gambling operators to fund research, education, and treatment of problem gambling.
Other expected measures include a reduction in stakes for online slot games to match those found in land-based gambling, the creation of a gambling ombudsman to handle customer complaints, and increased protection for children.
The White Paper aims to strike a balance between protecting the most vulnerable while not impeding the majority of people who gamble.
The Premier League has already announced a voluntary ban on gambling sponsorship from the front of match-day shirts.
Consultation and Delay:
While campaigners are hopeful, most measures in the White Paper, including the exact level of stake limits for online slot machines and curbs on digital marketing such as “free” bets or bonuses, will be subject to further consultation, leading to further delays in implementing long-awaited changes.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer highlighted that regulations towards gambling have not kept pace with the industry, which has seen a surge in the use of smartphones and the internet.
She stated that the White Paper would target the power balance between punters and operators and would do more to protect children and fund research into preventing gambling addiction in the future.
Ministers from the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, including gambling minister Stuart Andrew, will answer questions in the House of Commons on Thursday.
The forthcoming White Paper has been long-awaited, and campaigners have been calling for stricter regulation of the gambling industry for years.
The measures proposed in the White Paper, if implemented, could go a long way in preventing gambling addiction and protecting vulnerable individuals, such as children.
However, the fact that most measures will be subject to further consultation is a cause for concern, as it may lead to more delays and uncertainty.
It remains to be seen how effective the White Paper will be in regulating the industry and whether it will strike the right balance between protecting individuals while not stifling the gambling industry’s growth.