New gambling curbs will exclude kit deals
Online gambling is facing reform amid concern that an explosion in players is creating a growing problem of addiction.
A UK Government White Paper will review the 2005 Gambling Act that could see maximum stakes of between £2 and £5 for online casinos, a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who incur heavy losses, as well as “non-intrusive” affordability checks.
Companies will be required to remove features from online games that increase the level of risk for customers, reports The Times.
However, ministers have dropped plans to ban gambling companies from sponsoring football shirts following objections from the industry.
Celtic are sponsored by Dafabet and Rangers have a deal with 32Red. Nearly half of the clubs in the English Premier League were sponsored by gambling companies. The government is hoping to reach a voluntary agreement with the clubs while keeping the option of legislation in reserve.
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: “We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age.
“We will be publishing a White Paper as part of a review of gambling legislation in the coming weeks.”
The Gambling Commission recently released figures showing online gambling was at its highest ever rate in the UK, with one in four Britons (26%) involved, up from 19% in the previous five years.
The most popular form of online gambling is sports betting, in particular football, outside of the National Lottery and other lotteries.
While imposing tougher restrictions online, the government will relax regulations for bricks-and-mortar casinos, allowing them to install a maximum of 80 gaming machines rather than the present 20.
Casinos will also be able to extend credit to wealthy foreigners. This forms part of an attempt to “level the playing field” with online casinos.
A new ombudsman will be set up to bolster people’s rights if gambling companies fail to be socially responsible.
National Lottery sales down
Camelot, the outgoing operator of the National Lottery, said sales of tickets and instant-win games have fallen.
The company, which has launched legal action against the Gambling Commission after losing the lottery’s next licence to Allwyn, said sales fell £283.2 million, or 3%, to £8.1 billion in the year to the end of March.
Camelot generated £1.91bn for good causes, up £24.3m or almost 1.3% on last year. That is the highest amount in the 28 years Camelot has run the lottery.