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Please Do Not Restrict the Majority – Gambling Industry Handed Ultimatum

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New report calls for a number of measures to change the UK gambling industry for the majority of players.

Earlier this week the All Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm published their report into online gambling harms, and it made sober reading.

Insight into the Report
Some background to the report – it follows a year long inquiry from 50 parliamentarians who come from all UK political parties. Carolyn Harris is Committee Chair and is a prominent Labour politician who currently serves as the Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour and is Parliamentary Party Secretary to Labour leader, Kier Starmer.

The Committee heard from and based their report on over 10 public evidence sessions, closed sessions and submissions from a variety of stakeholders. As per the name of the inquiry, much of the evidence was around the harm that the industry has caused since 2005 which was the year that the current gambling legislation, 2005 Gambling Act.

The full 72 page report, detailed a lot of failings of the industry and two in particular should be highlighted. 1) the operator who failed to carry out source of funds checks on a customer who deposited over £8m and lost over £4m during a four-year period. 2) the tragic case of Chris Bruney who took his own life at 25 years of age after being offered huge inducements to bet more than he could afford.

The reason why it’s important to highlight these two cases is because both go to the heart of what needs to be fixed within the operators who offer gambling products in the UK. A higher standard needs to prevail across the industry – it is not ok that these cases happened and accountability has to happen. It also needs to be mentioned that both happened over 5 years ago but nonetheless they are shocking cases of previous failings in the industry.

What or Who needs Changing?
The Report expresses a lot of frustration towards the commission, culminating in a recommendation of ‘complete overhaul of gambling regulation in the UK, the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose’

Regardless of the Committee’s strong opposition to the UKGC, it is other recommendations issued that should cause a lot of concern for the majority of players in the UK who enjoy betting on a regular basis and do so within their means.

  • Stake limits for online slots of no higher than £2;
  • Ban on all VIP schemes and inducements;
  • Ban on gambling advertising;
  • Review of deposit limits;

Online betting especially looks set for massive changes, with the latest changes to the UK gambling industry

The press release of the report states that ‘the Group is not anti-gambling or ‘pohibitionist’ as some have said, this is to debase what is an important discussion to protect vulnerable people and children and prevent online gambling harm.’

This comment in the press release is a little disappointing to read and detracts from some good recommendations (will finish with them at the bottom of this article). Why say we are not anti-gambling and prohibitionist and then tie that to vulnerable people and children??

An important and separate discussion is needed on protecting vulnerable people and children but the reality is that the four above recommendations are very much anti-gambling and prohibitionist and will have far reaching negative consequences.

The Impact on the Industry
In short if any of these were to be enforced in full across the whole marketplace then there would be a high portion of players who will decide to play online with operators outside the UK market. Why should someone who enjoys playing online be restricted to stake and deposit limits, and be ineligible for loyalty rewards? Are we really going to treat someone who has a disposable entertainment budget of £5,000 per month and who likes to play from time to time, the same as someone who is playing online every second day, making multiple deposits and showing problematic behaviour.

There needs to be balance in this debate and not a one size fits all approach. Did the Committee hear from any player groups who enjoy gambling responsibly?

Aside from some misunderstandings, respect needs to be given to the report and the various groups who contributed to it.

The good recommendations in the Report which will help raise industry standards and which should be discussed further with all stakeholders include:

  • Affordability checks;
  • A Gambling Ombudsman for consumer redress;
  • Updated legislation to account for the current digital age;

Let me know what you think of this massive gambling industry news update below!

This article was written by a player on PuntersBlogs and reproduced on BetResponsible/Responsible Play.

Check out the original article here!

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