UK govt and Gambling Commission open White Paper consultations

UK govt and Gambling Commission open White Paper consultations

A range of betting and gaming stakeholders, as well as those in the treatment sector, have been asked to provide evidence to government and UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) consultations.

The discussions are a fundamental objective of the Gambling Act review White Paper, published back in April, which laid out a number of recommendations for the regulatory future of the UK betting sector.

Finance risk check focus from UKGC  SBC News UK govt and Gambling Commission open White Paper consultations

Stuart Andrew, UK Gambling Minister, reiterated that the purpose of the White Paper is to update “our decades old gambling laws to make them fit for the smartphone era”.

For its part in this, the UKGC’s first consultation will focus on six areas – financial risk and vulnerability, remote games design, improving consumer choice on direct marketing, strengthening age verification in premises, personal management licences and regulatory panels.

The consultations will evaluate a recommendation that operators be required to conduct risk based checks if unusually high-losses are likely to be harmful for a certain customer. 

Referred to as ‘finance risk checks’ by the White Paper and DCMS – a term first used by former Gambling Minister Paul Scully – the measures are the government’s answer to the intensively debated ‘affordability checks’. 

A monthly net loss threshold of £125 and yearly net loss of £500 was proposed as the ideal benchmark for initial checks, with £1,000 in losses within one day or £2,000 within 90 days put forward as a higher threshold.

Operators will also be able to consult on a suggestion to clarify and extend operator staff management roles necessary for a personal management licence. SBC News UK govt and Gambling Commission open White Paper consultations

Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director for Research and Policy, said: “These consultations offer the opportunity for people to have their say on proposals aimed at empowering and protecting consumers.

“Many of these proposals have already had a significant amount of engagement and scrutiny, and the Government’s White Paper sets out the policy positions. 

“We are pleased to now focus consultation and engagement on the detail of how such protections and controls can be implemented in practice. Today’s launch is a key moment in turning the commitments in the White Paper into reality.”

Further consultation will be conducted on recommendation to change the good practice code of conducting ID checks on customers who appear under 21 to those under 25 and to remove the exemption for age verification tests for smaller venues.

Proposals to reduce the ‘speed and intensity of online products’, such as slot games, and to give customers an option to opt-in to a product type and marketing channels will also be under discussion.

Lastly, the UKGC itself will also be under the spotlight during the forthcoming consultations, as the composition and decision-making processes of its regulatory panels have been recommended for a review by the White Paper. 

“We want to protect people from harm while making sure everyone who loves a flutter can continue to do so enjoyably,” Minister Andrew added.

“These consultations give people a chance to have their say and I encourage everyone to make their voice heard.”

DCMS starts slot stake discussion

Like the UKGC, the government has also earmarked finance risk checks as a key area for consultation, although also highlighting the recommended changes to slot stake limits as a priority.

The White Paper proposed a maximum stake limit for online slots of between £2 and £15, although 18-24 year olds will be subject to stricter measures. Depending on the outcome of consultations, this could be either a £2 or £4 limit, or an approach based on individual risk profiles.

Relevant stakeholders invited to participate in the consultations include -gambling industry figures, clinicians, academics, those with firsthand experience of harm, and the general public.

Minister Andrew said: “Three months ago we laid out proposals to update gambling laws and make them fit for the smartphone age.

“Slot machines in casinos, arcades and betting shops have strict stake limits but very similar games online have none, which can lead to very large and rapid losses of money.

“Today we are launching a consultation for a range of views on what the stake limit should be. I encourage you to have your say.”

Further emphasising its focus on slot games, the government outlined its view that casinos and bingo halls are competing under ‘outdated rules’ implemented in 2005, which have ‘restricted their ability to compete’. 

DCMS has outlined the objective of the consultations, and of the review in general, as being to “allow the land-based sector to thrive sustainably, respond to customer demand, and continue to recover from the impacts of COVID, while still protecting customers”.

Protecting young people from the potential of gambling-related harm is the primary motivator. The government cited Public Health England (PHE) research suggesting that younger adults are at higher risk due to cognitive development and inexperience of money management.

Will Quince, Health Minister, said: “Harmful gambling has widespread impacts. It affects more than people’s money, but their relationships and health as well.

“We are working to protect people from the damaging impacts of harmful gambling by improving treatment options with specialist NHS gambling addiction treatment services.

“Seven new gambling clinics will open this summer bringing vital support to more parts of the country, on top of the eight that are already open. We will be working to better understand the evidence received in order to inform our approach.”

Finance risk checks will also be on the agenda of the government as well as the UKGC, however. Consultations on slot stake limits will be open for eight weeks, with land-based consultations open for 10.

Following the conclusion of the slot stake consultations, the government’s next area of focus will be the White Paper’s recommendations for a research, education and treatment (RET) levy. 

The consultation will consider the design and governance of the levy, the amount of money due to be collected and funding distribution – factors which were not outlined in the White Paper, despite the proposal being a long-anticipated outcome of the review.SBC News UK govt and Gambling Commission open White Paper consultations

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