…By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
After a two-and-a-half-year review of the UK’s gambling laws, the Government has proposed new rules for online betting firms.
The reforms include “passive” checks to ensure that punters who spend more than £125 in a month can afford their losses, with more detailed credit-check-like measures for those spending £1,000 a day.
The white paper outlines the plans to reform the gambling industry, with the intention of replacing the 2005 Gambling Act.
The affordability checks are a key point of contention, with reformers calling for lower limits and more stringent checks, while the Betting and Gaming Council calls for higher limits and checks that do not require customers to share bank statements.
The affordability checks would bring in “passive” checks for customers losing £125 over a month or £500 within a year, mostly looking for county court judgments or other credit “black marks.”
For higher-spending customers, such as those spending £1,000 in a day or £2,000 over three months, more detailed checks closer to formal credit checks would be in place.
The white paper will also include the creation of a new ombudsman to stand up for customers.
The Government will also put out a consultation on stake limits for online slot games for those aged between 18-25, as online slots are the riskiest form of gambling.
The white paper includes a statutory levy to replace voluntary funding of research and treatment groups, with a new funding model that reduces the influence of the industry on the distribution of funds.
While the proposed reforms are a positive step, there is a risk of delay due to the consultation process, according to Dr James Noyes, senior fellow at the Social Markets Foundation.
Noyes notes the lack of meaningful reform of advertising and clarity about an ombudsman.
Betting operators largely rose on the publication of the white paper, with major firms having already incurred a cost of implementing some of the expected reforms.
However, uncertainty about the reforms had previously led to the collapse of a takeover of Ladbrokes owner Entain.
Despite the delay of the white paper, several firms have been fined for allowing customers to gamble unaffordable amounts, with Entain receiving a record penalty last autumn for safer gambling failings.
William Hill broke the record earlier this year by allowing a customer to deposit £20,000 within half an hour of opening their account.
Other major firms such as Paddy Power owner Flutter and 32Red owner Kindred have also received penalties while the review of betting laws was underway.
The proposed reforms aim to reduce harm, tighten regulation, and create greater fairness in the market.