UK gambling industry reacts to publication of white paper

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The UK gambling industry has reacted to the publication of the government’s ‘High stakes: gambling reform for the digital age’ white paper Review of the 2005 Gambling Act

Following 16,000 submissions for call for evidence, the government’s white paper has been released, which has brought forward significant changes to how the UK gambling industry will operate.

Some of the major recommendations from the white paper include a maximum stake limit for slot machines, financial vulnerability and affordability checks, the creation of a non-statutory gambling ombudsman, an increase in gambling machine allowance in casinos, and a strengthening of the Gambling Commission.

A full breakdown of the recommendations from the white paper can be found here.

Several executives in the UK gambling industry, including Entain, Flutter Entertainment, and GAMSTOP have reacted to the new regulation changes:

Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain 

“The UK Gambling Act Review is an important step towards having a robust regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age and creates a level playing field for all operators. We welcome the clarity that it will bring to the industry and customers.

“In leading the industry on player protection, we have already implemented a comprehensive range of actions to protect our customers, such as our industry-leading Advanced Responsibility and Care safer gaming programme, personalised online slots staking limits, and the implementation of an affordability model across the UK.  We are also extremely proud to have led the industry in 2019 by voluntarily agreeing to increase our levy donations to one per cent of our UK gross gaming revenues.

“As a global and diversified business that operates in over 40 territories around the world, all of which are regulated or regulating, we are firmly in favour of regulation that preserves the market for the vast majority of customers who enjoy recreational betting and gaming, whilst also ensuring appropriate protection to all players.”

Peter Jackson, CEO of Flutter Entertainment

“We welcome the publication of the White Paper, which marks a significant moment for the UK gambling sector. Whilst 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 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.”

Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP

“Online gambling has changed out of all recognition since the 2005 Gambling Act, and we welcome any changes that protect vulnerable individuals, especially younger consumers who make up a significant percentage of our consumer base. In March 2023, GAMSTOP recorded its highest-ever monthly registration figures since our inception in 2018, which shows that problem gambling remains a serious issue.

“We are particularly concerned about the targeting of vulnerable individuals by illegal sites not registered with GAMSTOP. More than 365,000 people have excluded themselves from online gambling and it is worrying that they are being deliberately targeted when they are at their most vulnerable.

“We are pleased that the Gambling Commission is to be given greater powers to deal with this issue, which we highlighted in our evidence to the DCMS. We are encouraged that legislation will be introduced, allowing the Gambling Commission to apply for a court order as a last resort, requiring ISPs, payment providers and other service providers to implement measures aimed at disrupting the business of an illegal gambling operator. This will provide greater protection for GAMSTOP’s users.”

Anna Hemmings, CEO of GamCare

“We are pleased to see that the gambling white paper is now published. The measures the Government are proposing are an important recognition of the changes needed to make sure that legislation around gambling is fit for the digital age. 

“At GamCare, our priority is making sure that people who need help receive it as quickly as possible. We, therefore, welcome the clarity the Government has provided on how research, education and treatment will be funded. 85% of our audiences told us they feel larger gambling companies should meet the costs of supporting those affected and will welcome this announcement as an important step. 

“We welcome additional financial risk checks for people who are gambling more than they can afford. Last year, 75 per cent of those using our services told us they struggled with long-term financial difficulties.  

“We welcome the introduction of an Ombudsman, which will ensure a fair, transparent and quick resolution of complaints; and will advocate for our service users to be at the heart of the design of the new system.”   

“We will now take time to carefully review all the proposals and respond to the detail of the white paper and any related consultations. We receive over 40,000 calls to our National Gambling Helpline every year and we will be looking for those people to share their thoughts on the proposals. 

“As the leading gambling support charity in the sector, we look forward to working with the Government and our partners in the National Gambling Support Network, so we can move forward in shaping the future of gambling support.”

Lebby Eyres, CEO of The Health Lottery

“We fully support the government’s goal of preventing children from accessing gambling products. As is stated in today’s publication, while the age limit to play the National Lottery was recently increased from 16 to 18, society lotteries were not required to follow suit. 

“However, we voluntarily raised the age of play for all The Health Lottery products sold in retail outlets to 18 in September last year as we take responsible play and the protection of children seriously. We had already raised the age to access our online offering to 18 in August 2020.”

William Woodhams, CEO of Fitzdares

“Ultimately we have spent five years preparing for this day and there are no major surprises. Second-guessing affordability checks has cost the industry around 20 per cent of business, so I do hope we can find a technology-first solution to this. I really hope a line can be drawn now and the UK can get back to seeing betting as the fun and brilliant past time that it is”.

Joe Ewens, Senior Gambling Industry Analyst at Vixio Regulatory Intelligence

“Despite numerous delays, today’s publication of the government’s Gambling Act white paper only marks the end of the beginning for gambling reform in the UK. While the industry will be broadly happy that affordability measures are less intense than originally feared and gambling advertising is almost untouched, they have reason to fear what’s still to come.

“The white paper does little to end the fierce debates on gambling policy and lays out a number of battlefields. In particular, stakes for online slots are set to be capped from anywhere between £2 and £15, pending a consultation. Campaigners will push hard for the lowest possible limits, as they successfully did on betting shops’ machines a few years ago. Taking into account the several other consultations announced today, there will be no easing of social pressure on gambling operators in the foreseeable future.”