Survey launched to review the Gambling Act 2005

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Group of UK parliamentarians conduct a survey of stakeholders as part of their review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The gambling industry continues to face unprecedented scrutiny from many places.  As the government said they would back in 2019, the Parliamentary All Party Betting and Gaming Group (APBGG), have launched their online survey to review the 2005 Gambling Act, with a report being produced for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.  

All industry stakeholders have been invited to complete the survey online. Following the survey, the APBGG will hold four webinars covering the following.

  • A Public Health Approach to Gambling
  • Gambling and Football 
  • The Marketing of Gambling
  • Is the Gambling Act Fit for Purpose

With the launch of the review, Philip Davies MP, Co-Chair of the APBGG said:

“‘As Co-Chairman of the All-Party Betting and Gaming Group, I believe it is essential that any review of the 2005 Gambling Act is based on evidence. The purpose of these sessions is to help inform the government in their work in this area. We want to listen to the legitimate concerns people have of the gambling industry as well as ensure the industry gets a fair hearing as well. I am determined that we listen to a wide range of views and make evidence-based recommendations which will ensure we enhance our global reputation as having the best regulated gambling industry in the world.”

The survey isn’t a short one. There are over 60 questions requiring responses across a range of areas. 

Section one of the survey looks at The Gambling Commissions decision to move to a public health approach from the previous responsible gambling strategy. The aim of a public health approach is to understand the harms and benefits an activity has on society and not just the effects on an individual. Gambling is recognised as a legitimate leisure activity and that should not be forgotten. The survey also asks how research and education can play a part, what is required and how it should be funded. 

The survey then moves on to look at problem gambling and how we can broaden our understanding of what it actually means and the potential causes. Recent figures highlight only 2% of problem gamblers take up support which is significantly lower than the international average of 10%. 

The correlation between gambling and football is something which has come under pressure recently. Some stakeholders have argued there is a “gamblification” of football and section three of the survey asks if this true and if so whether it actually matters. Football sponsorship is on the rise but can that be of benefit to both parties?

The APBGG recently held a meeting which showed the statistics about children gambling had been unfairly reported. Section four of the survey looks at some key points to consider when looking at problem gambling in children such as the effect loot boxes and exposure to marketing.

With the recent changes to fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) the APBGG asks whether or not this was based on evidence and the importance of using evidence to create policies. The Commission has a legal requirement to carry out its activities in a way which enables those it regulates to comply and grow.  With the way gambling has been debated recently are they now preventing this from happening.

The National Lottery license is due to be awarded in 2023 and the survey asks some very challenging questions of the National Lottery. With a focus on the current age limit and should that be changed to fall in line with other gambling age limits of 18? Also under scrutiny is the sale of scratch cards in unregulated premises and whether the National Lottery should be at the forefront of preventing problem gambling considering the current accessibility of its products.

Sections six and seven of the APBGG survey look at the future of land-based and online gambling. With the online sector continuing to grow at rapid rates, why has there been such little innovation with regards to land-based premises? Are we now at a time where we need to consider staking restrictions online which fall in line with recent changes to FOBTs. The final question in this section mentions the over regulation of the UK market and looks at whether this may lead to more black-market operators.

One of the biggest changes with the 2005 Gambling Act was the legalisation of Gambling marketing.  It is the perceived intrusion and over marketing of gambling that has led many campaigners to suggest it is the root of gambling addiction and should be banned. VIP programmes have been front page news in recent months, with some very high-profile operators receiving hefty fines due the processes they deploy when dealing with VIP customers, is there a legitimate way VIP programmes can be offered?

The survey comes to an end by asking participants to give their feedback on the commission and the work they carry out. There is also an opportunity to list any other changes they would have for the Gambling Act itself.

Comment

There is no doubt this survey is going to create some excellent conversations around very important aspects of the industry. This survey will allow respondants to provide detailed feedback and opinions on the things that matter to them. If the industry is to thrive their views must be heard and considered with any future changes to the Act. This survey should be supported by the industry and it will be interesting to see the response rates broken down into stakeholder categories. 

The subject of problem gambling understandably features heavily in the survey. Whilst the industry must improve its systems and methods for identifying and supporting players, it is good to see the survey open up the responsibility of problem gambling to a wider audience than just operators. The mooted move to a public health approach will place more responsibility on operators but with the additional support from agencies in place to provide support. This is an opportunity for operators to showcase some of the excellent work they are doing regarding gambling harms and start to open conversations around what others can do to assist. 

It is pleasing to see the inclusion of the National Lottery in this discussion.  With current age limits standing at 16, it is the first legalised form of gambling young people can access. Operators are facing huge challenges when it comes to dealing with problem gamblers and it seems appropriate the National Lottery falls in line with the rest of the market.

Loot boxes is something everyone needs to take seriously if we are to look at the ways in which we prevent youths from developing problematic behaviour. Often loot boxes require players to spend coins they have accumulated through gameplay or points they may have purchased with real money. By definition gambling is “Taking part in a game during which you risk money, or something of monetary value, in order to win money or a prize”. If youths are accessing this type of gambling from any early age is it fair that the majority of the responsibility regarding gambling harms currently lies with gambling operators whose first interaction with young people will be after their 18th birthday?

It will be interesting to see how the gambling commission responds to the survey and the pressure it will place on them when supporting government with amending the 2005 Act. As previously mentioned, the commission has a legal requirement to carry out its activities in a way which enables those it regulates to comply and grow. Will they use this opportunity to portray the industry in a positive way or will they fall in line with parliamentary pressures which by their nature are opposed to the industry? 

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