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The long-awaited Gambling Act White Paper is finally out. The newly published White Paper is the most transformative review of the UK gambling industry in 18 years. It signifies a big step in how the government will regulate all forms gambling in the United Kingdom. 

Top operators, developers, and industry trade bodies have eagerly been waiting for the publication of the Gambling Act review white paper. It took the government two years and four months to review and publish the white paper.

While the document highlights the industry’s expectations, it also has some unexpected clauses, such as adding a gambling ombudsman, to give customers one point of contact for industry queries.

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Key Features of the Gambling Act White Paper

Lucy Frazer, secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), highlighted key areas covered in the white paper. They are as follows.

Affordability Checks

  • Any players who lose £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days must be scrutinized on affordability checks.
  • All UK operators must perform private checks on players whose net loss exceeds £125 per month or £500 per year.

Stake Limit Checks

  • A stake limit will be implemented on online slot games, with the proposed wager limit being £2 and £15 per spin.
  • A bet limit of £2 per stake will be introduced to the 18-24-old-year-old age bracket as they are highly vulnerable.

RET Levy

  • Operators will be required to pay a mandatory statutory levy to the GB Gambling Commission that will fund research, education, and treatment (RET) for gambling harms. 
  • DCMS consultation on the design and scope is scheduled for summer 2023.

Mandatory Ombudsman for Support

  • Operators will require an independent gambling ombudsman to address complaints from players.
  • Data from the ombudsman will help the Gambling Commission to implement more laws to help the industry.
  • Commitment to the ombudsman will be voluntary.

Standing with the Gambling Commission

  • The Gambling Commission will review the design rules for online games and intensify features that will enhance the risk.
  • Tougher restrictions on VIP programs to protect those vulnerable to harmful gambling.
  • Reviewing the Commission’s fee in 2024 to ensure it has the resources to act on the whitepaper’s proposals.
  • The regulator to enhance expectations for operators with white-label casinos for a third brand.
  • Checks on the regulations for prize draws and competitions.

Land-Based Gambling

  • A ban on category D gaming machines for all under 18s.
  • DCMS to consult with the Commission on the implementation of contactless payment systems.
  • Land-based age verification slogan to change to Think 21 – to Think 25.
  • Casinos to offer sports betting options at their premises. 
  • Number of slot machines per casino is to be increased to 80 from the previous 20 limits.

Advertising Restrictions

  • The Commission to conduct consultations on the newly proposed controls for customers, including the option to welcome bonuses and other offers.
  • Reinforcement of measures on gambling harms.

Handling the Black Market Problem

  • The commission will be allowed to apply for a court order to force providers to block sites.

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Reactions on the Publication of the Gambling Act White Paper 

The publication of the Gambling Act white paper has spiked different reactions across the industry. We have compiled statements from top government and iGaming industry leaders:

“Today is a momentous occasion that many thought, and many wished would never happen,” she said. “But now the commitments need to be fulfilled. We don’t need more consultation. We’ve had two and a half years since the review.

“We need swift action, immediate implementation of the proposals and urgent legislative change where it is necessary after 18 years of the gambling industry’s dominance over this agenda.”

Carolyn Harris, chair of the gambling related harms All Parliamentary Group (APG)

“The government has delayed this white paper many times,” she said. “Everything they’re announcing today was ready to go year ago. Six gambling ministers, four culture secretaries all promised to publish this white paper imminently.”

Labour shadow DCMS minister Alex Davis-Jones 

“While we will need to review the detail of the proposals, we believe proactive change will lead to a better future for our industry. As such we have introduced industry-leading safer gambling controls via our ‘Play Well’ strategy over the last few years, including setting mandatory deposit limits for customers under age 25, reducing online slots staking limits to £10 ($12.48). per spin and making material investments in our safer gambling operational capabilities.

“We will continue to constructively engage with the Government and Gambling Commission as part of any subsequent industry consultation processes, with a focus on providing support to the minority at risk of gambling harm without interfering disproportionately with the enjoyment of the vast majority.”

 Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson.

The Conservative Party used to believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility, but that seems to have gone out of the window with these affordability check proposals.

Phillip Davis MP

“Today’s Gambling White Paper is a welcome step in the right direction for the prevention of gambling harms. It is encouraging to see these commitments for a sustainable and transparent funding model as well as greater consumer protections, particularly in the online space.

“After so many delays to the publication of the White Paper, it is now critical that we act with urgency to ensure that the measures outlined are implemented swiftly, especially given that so many of them are subject to further consultation.”

Zoë Osmond, CEO of GambleAware

“There’s no getting around the fact that the introduction of affordability checks marks a radical change for gambling in Great Britain.”

Harry Stewart-Moore, Commercial Litigator and Sports Law expert for law firm Gardner Leader

“It has taken over two years for the Government’s response to be published. The most significant of the measures are the new online stake limits, and the proposals for vulnerability and affordability checks at relatively low levels of losses.”

“Overall, this is good news for the land-based gambling industry at the expense of the online industry.

“Casinos will be delighted with the proposals to offer sports betting, which has always been a strange restriction. Holders of dormant casino licences will also be happy to hear that it may be possible to relocate these to other local authority areas in future.

“Anti-gambling campaigners will be glad that the Government’s proposals have finally seen the light of day but are likely to argue that the proposals do not go far enough to prevent harm.” 

“Let’s hope that these proposals will go far enough to satisfy those on both sides of the debate. What nobody wants is a further two years of consultation on some of these proposals, or worse still, the next Government including in its manifesto a further review of gambling legislation.”

Richard Williams of Keystone Laws

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