sponsorship ban among proposals that could roll back much of Blair-era
A wide-ranging review of
gambling laws to be launched next week will consider banning sports sponsorship
and limiting online casino stakes among a reformers shopping
list of proposals to overhaul gambling laws, the Guardian can reveal.
The long-awaited review, which could roll back vast swathes of the
Gambling Act 2005, will begin as soon as Monday with an initial call for
Terms of reference will be published at the same time,
offering the first insight into what is in store for the gambling industry as
well as campaigners calling for tougher regulation.
concern about gamblings role in wider society, changes under
consideration will include:
The broad scope is likely to be
welcomed by advocates for tighter regulation, including people recovering from
problem gambling and more than 50 MPs and and peers who have backed stricter
controls. But the prospect of a much harsher regulatory climate will concern
online casino bosses and bookmakers.
- Limits on online stakes, prizes
and spin speeds.
- Tough affordability
- A testing regime for new
- A sports sponsorship
- New powers to tackle the
- Legal redress for wronged
- A mandatory levy to fund
Multiple sources said officials at
the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which is leading
the process, would take aim at almost every area of gambling law, in what one
insider termed a reformers shopping list.
area in their sights is regulation of online casino and electronic slot machine
games. Gamblers can bet unlimited amounts online, even though some
internet-based games such as roulette are no different from those that were
available on fixed-odds betting terminals, whose maximum stake was cut from
£100 to £2.
Alongside new maximum stakes, prizes could be
curbed and the speed of play limited.
Ministers will consider whether
firms should be forced to limit players monthly losses and perform
stricter affordability checks to ensure people are gambling within their means.
They will also look at mandating a single customer view policy,
where multiple firms pool information about potentially vulnerable customers.
It follows a string of high-profile incidents in which problem gamblers
were left destitute after losing large sums of money.
to be weighed up by the DMCS, new gambling products could also be subjected to
a rigorous testing regime that would determine whether they are released on to
the market and how much can be wagered on them. So-called white
label operations, where overseas firms can buy access to the UK market
via a local company, will also be examined.
The UK gambling
industrys lobby group, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has
repeatedly said tightening the regulations too far could fuel parallel market
betting operations that have a scant regard for customer safety. But the DCMS
will consider giving the regulator, the Gambling Commission, which has admitted
it is underfunded, extra financial resources and new powers to tackle illicit
Sources said the review would also consider marketing and
advertising, including the possibility of new measures to curb sports
sponsorship including logos on football club shirts in an
apparent response to the gamblification of football.
Promotional offers are also expected to form part of the reviews
scope, indicating that the government is not satisfied with efforts by the
industry and the Gambling Commission to address VIP schemes, bonuses and
so-called free bets.
VIP schemes, in which losing gamblers
are wined, dined and given financial incentives to keep betting, have been a
common feature of stories about problem gamblers who resorted to crime or took
their own lives.
DCMS will consider making the existing levy system
that funds addiction treatment mandatory. But the department is not expected to
take on the much-criticised lack of funding for treatment of gambling
addiction, indicating that this will be left to the Department of Health and
The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, will oversee the
review but Boris Johnson is understood to be keen on dialling back the
Blair-era legislation that spawned the modern UK gambling industry.
Senior officials in Downing Street are also believed to see gambling
reform as a vote-winner, as well as the right thing to do. The PM just
sees it as people being exploited and its not him, one MP with
knowledge of No 10s thinking said earlier this year.
spokesperson said: It is important that the review is evidence-led and
strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable, while not spoiling
the enjoyment of the estimated 30 million people who enjoy a bet at least once
a month the vast majority of whom do so perfectly safely and
driving them into the arms of the unregulated online black market.