As the government formally launched its long-delayed review of the Gambling Act 2005, UK gambling operators are waiting with baited breath.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) declared the official launch of “a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age, as committed to in the [Conservative party’s 2019 general election] manifesto.”
A request for proof that will run until March 31, 2021 has been released by the DCMS. Online stakes and spending caps are the issues up for debate, with the government generally expected to lobby for an online slot cap that matches the maximum £ 2 stake levied in betting shops back in April 2019 on fixed-odds betting terminals.
Gambling age limits and the potential boundaries of promotional deals and gambling ads are still up for debate. The latter is most definitely to include sports sponsorship, which has proved to be a reliable goal for the regular UK media suspects, but even football fans are now voicing weariness at the ubiquity of team shirt gambling logos.
The review would also consider the “role and powers” of the UK Gambling Commission. The UKGC has become something of a whipping boy in parliament, with some MPs regularly denigrating the regulator as “unfit for purpose” and much too friendly with the operators it supervises.
Minister of Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said that the plan was to ensure that the UKGC “can keep pace with the licenced sector and tackle the black market.” DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden added that the industry has “evolved at breakneck speed,” making the 2005 Gambling Act “an analogue law in a digital age. ”
One move that has already been agreed is raising the minimum age from its present 16 years to 18 for playing the National Lottery. The DCMS said the move would take effect from October 2021, although the existing plan is to be limited to 18+ as of April for online purchases, which recently reached a new high during the pandemic lockout of retail sales.
The government offered faint hope that the knives are not entirely out for the gambling industry, noting the objective was to “ensure that customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.”