Gambling APPG launches inquiry into UK white paper on gambling reforms

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The Gambling Related Harm APPG has launched an inquiry into the UK government’s white paper on gambling reforms, to ensure that changes can be achieved to safeguard and improve UK gambling. 

The APPG, which seeks hardened reforms of the gambling sector, outlined three key reasons why the inquiry into the government’s white paperHigh Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age’ is taking place:

  • Assess and analyse the white paper to set out recommendations for the government to inform the consultation phase
  • Hold the government to account and ensure reforms are taken forward as quickly as possible
  • Ensure commitments that have been made in the white paper to legislate ‘when parliamentary time allows’ are a priority including the attribution of greater powers to the UK Gambling Commission to ensure enforcement.

The APPG added that it is “pleased to see” the government commit to reform in the following areas to help modernise and develop regulation for online gambling:

  • Operator checks to understand a customer’s gambling and if it could be unaffordable and harmful
  • UKGC’s commitment to consult on mandating participation in a cross-operator harm prevention system based on data sharing
  • Proposals to consult on updating online product design rules
  • Proposed online slots stake limits
  • Commitment to consult on implementing potential improvements to player-set deposit limits such as making them mandatory of opt-out rather than opt-in
  • Proposals to review the design and targeting of incentives such as free bets and bonuses
  • Greater UKGC funding and powers
  • Statutory levy introduction to be paid by operators and collected and distributed by UKGC under the direction and approval of ministers
  • Ombudsman introduction that will be fully independent of the industry
  • Greater protections for young people including measures preventing the use of Category D cash slot machines

However, the APPG did note that it was disappointed in the “relatively weak proposals” regarding restrictions to gambling advertising including for white label and affiliate products, adding that “much more must be done on advertising to protect children and young people”.

The APPG also stated that it will be holding evidence sessions to look at the measures set out above and ask: 

  • What is the optimal stake limit for harmful online slot content and how online game design should be modified to prevent harm including opt-out deposit limits?
  • How the statutory levy should be operated and administered?
  • How should affordability checks be operated and what are the proposed parameters set out by the government?
  • What is the optimal system for data sharing?
  • How an ombudsman should be operated and administered?
  • What further steps should be taken to protect children and young people from gambling advertising?

The APPG added it will “continue to scrutinise further areas of potential harm, including those not included within the remit of the white paper, such as the operation of the National Lottery and the emergence of new forms of gambling”.

“Whilst we entirely welcome many of the proposals set out in the White Paper, and are pleased the Government has listened to our calls for reform, there is clearly more work to be done,” commented Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the Gambling Related Harm APPG.

“The APPG will now seek to inform the Government with further evidence and analysis during the important consultation phase, and ensure that measures and commitments made, that will help save lives, are implemented as a priority.”