Lucy Frazer: UK gambling white paper to be ‘centred around balance’

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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has told The Times that the UK government’s soon-to-be-released gambling white paper will have an approach to the industry “centred around balance”, allowing people to “have a flutter” while also protecting the most vulnerable.

The long-awaited UK gambling white paper is expected to be published later today, with one of the biggest changes reportedly being an adjustment to the maximum stake on online slots.

The maximum online slot machine stake is expected to be split across two age categories, £2 for those aged under 25 and £15 for those who are older, going against the previously rumoured maximum online slot stakes of between £2 and £5 for all customers.

The white paper is also expected to bring in “light-touch checks” for online customers, and “enhanced checks” for people that wager large amounts.

People who lose £1,000 a day, or £2,000 over 90 days, will also face greater affordability checks involving banks.

A “polluter pays” tax is expected to be enforced on the gambling industry as well, including a one per cent of profit tax on larger companies.

Frazer told The Times that the government is taking an approach to the industry “centred around balance”, allowing people to “have a flutter” while also protecting those suffering from gambling harm.

“That’s why the government is committed to an overhaul of our rules with an approach centred around balance — to protect the most vulnerable, but not get in the way of the majority of people who want to have a flutter,” Frazer commented.

“We live in a freedom-loving democracy where, for the overwhelming majority of adults, betting is a bit of fun and it doesn’t come with ruinous consequences.” 

The Culture Secretary added that the new regulations brought into play by the white paper will be suitable for the digital age of gambling.

“But one that also recognises that our regulations are not up to the task of protecting people in the age of the smartphone,” Frazer noted.

“There are blindspots in the system that are being exploited, keeping addicts addicted and disproportionately impacting some of our communities who are least able to afford it.”

The white paper is also expected to stop online games from having features that increase the risk level for customers. Digital advertising that can target vulnerable people is also expected to be limited.

A statutory levy on gambling companies could also be introduced to generate funding for NHS gambling harm treatment.

Changes are expected for land-based casinos as well, including making it easier for them to obtain planning permission and increasing the number of machines that can be installed to 80 for smaller casinos.