The long-called-for review of UK’s gambling law is set to be launched next week and to include proposals for tougher regulations in nearly all areas of the nation’s £14.5 billion gambling industry.
The Guardian reported Friday that the review is expected to begin as soon as Monday, December 7, with an initial call for evidence. Terms of reference will be released upon the review’s launch to offer a first look into how the gambling industry could be shaped and what reforms are in store.
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The UK Government is instigating the review after mounting pressure from anti-gambling campaigners, including influential MPs, who have been calling for harsher measures for years.
Insiders informed The Guardian that the changes that will be under consideration during the review will include the introduction of a cap on online stakes, tougher affordability checks, a testing regime for new products, a ban on sports sponsorships and other advertising curbs, and new efforts to tackle the black market.
Long-time lobbyists for tougher rules will likely welcome news about the start of the review that could roll back huge sections of the Gambling Act 2005, the statute that gave rise to regulated online gambling in the UK.
However, online gambling firms fear that harsher regulations could make it harder to regulate the black market that comprises unlicensed operators, many of whom have little regard for responsible gambling and AML practices as well as for customer safety.
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Sources told The Guardian that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will review almost every area of UK’s gambling law in what one source termed a “reformer’s shopping list.”
One of the key areas that the review will be concerned with will be online casino and online slots games. Under current regulations, UK gamblers can stake unlimited amounts online. MPs will consider whether a maximum stake limit should be implemented.
Alongside a cap on stakes, ministers will also discuss whether gambling operators should be required to implement a limit on monthly losses and carry stricter affordability checks to make sure their customers are not wagering more than what they could afford.
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Other proposals that will be reviewed by the DCMS include a testing regime for new gambling products that would help regulators determine whether these new products should be made available in the UK and how much can be spent on them.
Gambling ads and marketing will be another topic that will be discussed. Campaigners have long called for curbs on sports sponsorships and the soon-to-be-launched review is expected to include stricter rules, including restrictions on logos of gambling companies on football club shirts.
Promotional offers such as bonuses and free bets will too form a part of the pending review’s scope. A number of UK-licensed operators have been fined by the Gambling Commission over violations associated with these offers as well as with so-called VIP schemes that treat high-spending gamblers to various incentives and comps to encourage them to gamble even larger amounts.
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