As the dust settles on news that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be launching its review into the 2005 Gambling Act, individuals and organisations across the industry and beyond have reacted to an announcement that has, for the most part, been warmly welcomed.
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has called for an analogue law to be brought into a digital age, and promised a comprehensive review to ensure that ‘we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people’.
Online restrictions, advertising standards and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence to examine how gambling has changed over the past 15 years. This will run for 16 weeks and will close on March 31, 2021.
Protections for online gamblers, such as stake and spend limits, the industry’s relationship with sport, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed, will all be explored in the wide-ranging review.
It was added that the findings will be used to inform any changes to the Act to ‘ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so’.
Today we’ve launched a review to ensure gambling laws remain fit for the digital age
The wide-ranging #GamblingActReview announced today considers:
— DCMS (@DCMS) December 8, 2020
Betting and Gaming Council
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council.
“As the standards body for the regulated industry, we strongly welcome the launch of the Government’s Review. We called for it to be wide-ranging and evidence-led, and it provides an important opportunity to drive further changes on safer gambling introduced by the industry in the past year.
“Problem gambling may be low at around 0.7 per cent and as the DCMS has said there is no evidence that it has increased in the last 20 years, but one problem gambler is one too many. So I hope ministers will focus in with laser-like precision on problem gamblers and those at risk. The government must ensure that any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online, where there aren’t any safeguards to protect vulnerable people.
— Betting and Gaming Council (@BetGameCouncil) December 8, 2020
“Our members do not allow betting by under-18s, so we welcome in particular confirmation of the government’s decision to ban 16 and 17-year-olds from playing the National Lottery. It’s got to be one rule for all.
“The review must also take account of the huge economic contribution made by the betting and gaming industry, which employs over 100,000 people. This includes £8.7bn a year in gross value added and over £3.2bn to HM Treasury in tax. In addition, horse racing receives over £350m per year through the horse racing industry levy, media rights and sponsorships, while betting companies spend over £40m a year on the English Football League and its clubs.”
A spokesperson from the Gambling Commission.
“We welcome the government’s review of the Gambling Act which will also consider our powers and resources. Our job is to make gambling safer and the review creates an opportunity to build on the progress we have made to protect players and the public – such as strengthened age and identity verification, strict new guidance for so-called VIP schemes and banning gambling with credit cards.
“As the statutory adviser to the secretary of state we look forward to contributing our advice to help with the government’s review and we will continue our close working relationship with DCMS as the review proceeds. We’ve made it clear to gambling operators that we will continue to work at pace to take action to protect consumers while the review of the Gambling Act is underway.”
Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare.
“As the largest provider of gambling support and treatment services across Great Britain, GamCare speaks to upwards of 40,000 people via the National Gambling Helpline and in our treatment services each year, and we are uniquely positioned to represent the voice and experience of our service users as part of the Gambling Act review.
“We welcome the review, and the opportunity to have a wide-ranging debate about how to best improve services and support for people at risk from gambling harms. In particular we know how important it is to ensure wider access to early, confidential advice. Our priority will be to ensure that more people can access support earlier.
“We look forward to providing a full and considered response as part of the consultation process.”
Ian Proctor, executive chairman of Flutter’s UK & Irish division.
“This is a really significant moment and I welcome the launch of this review. It will allow us to build on recent efforts by the industry to improve customer safety for the millions of people who enjoy our products and in particular help the small number who have experienced problems with their gambling.
“We must consider all options on the table and take forward policies where the evidence shows they will achieve meaningful, beneficial change that genuinely helps those that need it. We look forward to working with the government on this and feeding in our evidence-based findings into the review.”
Peers for Gambling Reform
Lord Foster of Bath, chair of Peers for Gambling Reform.
“I strongly welcome the launch of the government’s long-awaited gambling review. Peers for gambling reform will be working hard with parliamentarians and stakeholders to ensure we seize this opportunity for reform to protect those who are most at risk and ensure our legislative regime meets the demands of our digital age. At the same time, a number of reforms should be taken alongside the review to ensure that early action is taken where possible. It is time for action.”
Lord Bishop of St Albans, vice-chair of Peers for Gambling Reform.
“Welcome though the review is, when families are being destroyed and lives are being taken unnecessarily due to problem gambling, we cannot afford to wait until the end of a lengthy review before any action is taken. The suffering caused by gambling is very well documented and the problem is only getting worse. There is a moral duty to act now.”
Lee Willows, CEO of YGAM.
“The government’s review of the Gambling Act is a momentous opportunity to implement substantial long-term improvements that protect consumers. Whilst YGAM is not a campaigning organisation, we believe a public health approach should be adopted with a strong focus on education and prevention.
“We look forward to working closely with stakeholders and the government to offer our expertise to ensure any changes are focused on safeguarding future generations growing up in a digital world. Education is essential.”
Ulrik Bengtsson, William Hill CEO.
“William Hill welcomes the gambling review which the government has launched today. Our industry is more committed than ever to keeping gambling as safe as possible and we have been getting on with raising standards.
Whether it’s ensuring under-18s and vulnerable people are not exposed to gambling adverts or identifying at-risk players through technology, we are continually driving up standards to ensure gambling remains a safe and fun pursuit for millions of people in the UK.
We look forward to engaging with the government throughout the review to ensure that any new regulations work alongside progress made by our industry and provide clarity and certainty for customers, operators and all those who work in the sector.
It is important that the review is evidence-led, strikes the right balance between protecting the vulnerable and the continued enjoyment of the many tens of millions who happily place the occasional bet, as well as taking a critical look at the growing risks of the black market where there are no consumer protections”.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm
Carolyn Harris MP, chair of the GRH APPG.
“I very much welcome the launch of the gambling review, something which I and many others have long been calling for. I hope we are at a turning point in the reform of our wholly outdated gambling legislation. Too many families are impacted by gambling related harm and we must protect those most at risk through legislation and policy change.
“Our current legislation is analogue legislation in a digital age, online gambling is unregulated in many areas and mandatory deposit limits and affordability mechanisms are essential. Gamblers need an ombudsman to support redress and statutory levy must be put in place to support research, education and treatment.
“The regulator must also be overhauled. This is a once in a generation chance to improve much needed gambling regulation in this country and change cannot come soon enough.“
Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, vice-chair of the GRH APPG.
“This review is long overdue. The APPG has taken huge amounts of evidence from people whose lives have been blighted and torn apart by the terrible aftermath of gambling addiction. The deregulated gambling industry has, throughout the last few years, paid only lip-service to the nature of the damage that has been done to people up and down the country.
“Despite all of the evidence, the industry has pursued people who have a serious gambling problem, incentivising them to gambling more through their terrible VIP rooms. It is quite clear that we can no longer allow the industry to regulate itself and it is time, therefore, for balance to be restored, particularly now the advent of new technology has meant that gambling has never been easier to access or promote than it is now. This review needs to be clear headed and to ensure that the nature of the regulation and the regulator is robust and clear.”