Amid regulatory changes, spending checks remain hot topic in the UK

Amid regulatory changes, spending checks remain hot topic in the UK

Amid regulatory changes, spending checks remain hot topic in the UK
Near the end of 2020, the UK government launched a review of its Gambling Act 2005, the main law that regulates gambling activities in the country. Although the lawmakers acknowledged that the laws were effective, the review was launched since there were many people who experienced problem gambling and harm. The overhaul of the gambling regulations ultimately sought to ensure the protection of more people from gambling harm and at the same time make the laws fit in the context of the growing presence of online gambling activities. After many breached deadlines and delays, the Gambling Act White Paper was released near the end of April last year. The release of the White Paper marked the beginning of the first significant changes in the gambling industry in the country for almost two decades. Considering the importance of the upcoming regulatory changes for the vertical, not only politicians but industry stakeholders, such as representatives of the land-based, sports betting and online gambling sectors, have joined the ongoing heated debate about the future of the gambling industry in the UK. Among the proposed changes is a mandatory levy that would benefit the treatment and research into problem gambling, as well as the establishment of a Gambling Ombudsman. Further changes involve the implantation of online slot betting limits, reviewing the rules for gambling advertising as well as bonus policies. One major part of the changes involves the implantation of affordability checks. This change has captured the attention of politicians and stakeholders within the gambling sector with many voicing their concern about the implementation of spending checks and how consumers may react to them. UK Gambling Minister confirms spending checks must not affect horseracing Considering the planned changes, a petition was filed that required MPs in the country to debate the part involving financial checks in particular. Announced in November, the petition was filed by the Jockey Club’s Chief Executive, Nevin Truesdale. In less than a month, the effort saw significant interest, passing 100,000 signatures. As a result of the petition, stakeholders and MPs met late in February for a debate that had a focus on the proposed financial checks. Stuart Andrew, the Gambling Minister in the UK, spoke during the Financial Risk Checks for Gambling debate, addressing a number of key concerns. He acknowledged issues raised by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) together with other industry stakeholders regarding the impact of financial checks on sport. In a statement, Andrew explained: “I assure everybody that we have heard the concerns and take them extremely seriously. I have already met with many colleagues here today, including members of the APPG on racing and bloodstock.” The UK Gambling Minister highlighted the rich heritage of horseracing in the country, adding that the sector contributes significantly to the economy while at the same time playing a vital role in the livelihood of rural communities and families. “The employment that it supports across racecourses, training yards, breeding operations and related sectors reflects a powerful industry that is respected at home and abroad,” added Andrew. Additionally, the Gambling Minister said that the government understands that the spending checks must not negatively impact the horseracing sector, or anyone involved in the industry. In Andrew’s own words: “I am therefore clear that we must ensure that the checks do not adversely affect racing or those who work in the sector, or interrupt the customer journey.” He added that the affordability checks that would be implemented must not deprive horseracing of investments by trainers and wealthy individuals. The horseracing sector needs to be protected In light of the Parliamentary debate, Julie Harrington, BHA’s Chief Executive, said that it was imperative for MPs, the industry and the government to engage in the debate about affordability checks. She acknowledged that the discussions helped shed light on an issue that is of significant importance for the sport. “Many MPs made valuable contributions to the debate, and we are sure that Sports Minister Stuart Andrew will have listened with interest to the views expressed,” added Harrington. She said that the health of the racing industry is in the hands of the government and acknowledged that MPs from all sides of the debate recognized the need for the government to protect and support the racing sector in the country amid the planned legislative changes. Harrington explained: “We were encouraged by Minister Andrew ruling out the use of job titles and postcodes in the implementation of enhanced spending checks and confirming that these changes will at least be subject to a genuine pilot.” Last but not least, BHA’s Chief Executive pointed out that the Authority will continue its collaboration with the government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Gambling Commission to ensure the affordability checks won’t have a detrimental effect on the racing industry. Stake limits to affect online slots from September Besides the discussion about spending checks, the government announced major changes affecting online gambling activities, slots in particular. An effort that was discussed with the review of the Gambling Act is limits to online slot stakes. The upcoming change will affect online slot games that will see a maximum of £2 stake per spin for individuals between the age of 18 and 24 years old. Not unexpectedly, adults who are aged 25 and over will also be subject to a stake limit per spin. This limit will be higher than the previous age group, set at £5 per spin. The new stake limits will be implemented starting from September this year. Upon confirming the upcoming stake limits for online slot games, the DCMS wrote in a statement: “Easily accessible online slot games are one of the most addictive forms of gambling, and can be associated with large losses, long sessions, and binge play. Unlike land-based gaming machines, such as in casinos, they have no statutory stake limits.” The aforementioned limits seek to protect not only young adults but consumers in general from the potential negative impact of excessive online gambling by reducing the money spent on online slots. The stake limits for online slots are an important part of the upcoming changes to the gambling sector. Combined with the affordability checks and additional changes, undoubtedly, the gambling industry in the country is going to change significantly in the near future. Image credit: Pixabay.com

27 MAR 2024

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