The Guardian has confirmed that next week the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) will formally launch its ‘2005 Gambling Act’ review, implementing the biggest overhaul since the’ Blair Era ‘of the UK betting industry.
The review, marked by PM Boris Johnson as a 2019 General Election promise, would review all existing gambling laws with the goal of reforming the industry for the ‘benefit of society’ and taking into the ‘digital age’ the consumer security of the sector.
DCMS will publish its ‘terms of reference’ for the study, which will present main conditions to be addressed, with recommendations submitted relating to a ban on betting sponsorships and online casino stake caps that represent the £ 2 reduction in 2019 FOBTs from the government.
The reform of the Gambling Act has gathered broad views from across the political spectrum, with numerous stakeholders considering how to regulate the UK gambling industry as well as key areas related to customer safety, safer gambling, advertising, operator activity and corporate governance.
The House of Lords Select Committee on ‘Gambling’s Social & Economic Impacts’ this summer, headed by Lord Garde of Yarmouth, recommended 66 crucial areas that needed immediate government intervention.
The report of the Select Committee advised the government to address ‘ system failures’ in the UK market environment, which included banking, loans and personal finance, which had increased the criminal effects of problem gambling.
Beyond industry changes, the review will also include an evaluation of the regulation of gambling by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). MPs have challenged the ‘National Strategy’ of the department and its near engagement with incumbents of the industry.
A cross-party group of peers within the House of Lords, meanwhile had conducted a review of the safeguards, responsibilities and consumer protections of the gaming industry to find ‘urgent improvements’ that had to be made to existing legislation.
The Peers for Gambling Reform, headed by Lord Foster of Bath (Liberal Democrat), was formed to support the House of Lords Select Committee on Gambling’s recommendations.
The UK gambling industry has undergone sweeping changes to its code of ethics and social responsibility, spearheaded by the Betting and Gaming Council, independent of government legislation (BGC).
BGC officials committed themselves to a new advertisement code in 2019, imposing a whistle-to-whistle ban on all betting ads during sports broadcasts.
This was followed by a promise made by all BGC members to ensure that during the first and second UK lockdowns, 20 percent of all TV, radio and internet ads was devoted to safer gambling messages.
Meanwhile the largest operators in UK gambling, bet365, Flutter, William Hill and GVC Holdings, have agreed to finance £ 100 million to develop the national research, education and treatment (RET) services of GambleAware.
All BGC members have also committed to new requirements for game designs, digital advertisement protections and overhaul of VIP systems for over 25 years by 2020.
MPs also requested that DCMS ensure that its review imposes a requirement of over 18s on the purchasing of National Lottery tickets and scratch cards, of heightened concern, following criticism by the Children’s Commissioner of England who alleged that Camelot had abused its position of power.
Reports from earlier this year indicated that key figures from 10 Downing Street, including Boris Johnson and Munira Mirza (director of the No10 Policy Unit), were also involved in the ‘long-awaited’ reforms.
It is said that the Prime Minister is keen to scale back the legislation introduced by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, which he is said to believe is a conservative vote-winner.
Next year, DCMS will have a bloated timetable requested by the government, under which the department will manage the tourism and heritage recovery of COVID-19, the digital security reform of the UK, the restructuring of the BBC, and the competition for the fourth National Lottery contract.