House of Lords report calls on drastic changes among regulators

Cvetanka Cvetanovska | Published 3 Jul 2020, 1:28 p.m.

It seems that a week can’t go by in the UK gambling industry without a public report or open critics on how regulators deal with challenges.

Earlier this week, a report that discusses problem gambling challenges issued by DCMS Department, pointed out the UKGC for failing to understand the seriousness of the topic, saying the Commission needs a different, in-depth approach.

Meanwhile, the APPG suggested a number of changes to online gaming in the UK. One of them is the ban on all gambling advertisements and VIP schemes, as well as the £2 online slot limit. At that time, BGC advised that such changes will drive people away from safe gambling platforms to betting on the black market. The two reports didn’t seem to be complementary, with the APPG report being more political than encouraging in terms of changes for the better.

Discussing the latest Public Accounts Committee report into changes toward gambling activities in the UK, a new report has come from the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee, calling for stricter measures for gambling.

An end to gambling shirt sponsorships

The time for Action report issued by the HOL Committee, recommends drastic changes to the sector, all addressed as urgent and lifesaving. Precisely, they’ve outlined 66 recommendations for UKGC and UK Government to take into consideration and implement. The key recommendations include the banning of gambling ads on the sports team equipment and near any sports venues. Moreover, an annual tax to fund problem gaming will be imposed in order to support gambling treatment, research, and game testing systems. The Lord’s report also made several mentions on the risk of gambling content being presented to children. The report recommends raising the minimum age for National Lottery players to 18 years of age.

The Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur welcomed and praised this report, saying they are already working on a number of recommendations that are highlighted. Also, he emphasized the need for greater available resources in order to meet the challenges ahead, and for that matter, are working closely with DCMS to address the blocking points. Mc Arthur also added that the industry is already making progress in many areas such as minimum spin times, stake limits, consumer protection and further research into gambling-related harm.

While they are aware that criticism is something all regulatory bodies face, whenever it is objective and justified it will be properly amended. As they stated, they are confident in their transparent work and have been straightforward in all the evidence they’ve given to various committees in many areas.

Need for continuous work and progress

The BGC CEO Michael Dugher and GVC CEO Kenny Alexander agreed with the need to make improvements, by enforcing the need for more research to be done in dealing with problem gambling, while investing in education programmes.

The banning of gambling advertising on sports lines and equipment will certainly be one of the most controversial and discussed recommendations. While they won’t take effect for clubs below the Premier League before 2023, there’s an obvious logic behind the concern. For the 2019/2020, 10 Premier League clubs displayed gambling content on their shirts, which increased up to 17 in the Championship.

On the other hand, we’re already witnessing changes related to gambling advertising such as the whistle-to-whistle advertising ban, which reduced sports advertising by 84% since it was introduced last summer, according to BGC’s announcement. Finally, they agree with the Lords that the real challenge for the government is to make gambling safer for all, but no less enjoyable and fun for those who are safely involved and willing to participate.