New Gambling Ombudsman Proposed By Labour Deputy

Viktor Vangelov | Published 18 Jun 2019, 2:51 p.m.

It is known that the Labour Party have adopted a rather restrictive approach to online gambling and gambling in general and now they have put forward a new proposal. Namely, according to them, a new position of Gambling Ombudsman should be introduced. Last month, Tom Watson, who currently serves as Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and is also Deputy Leader and one of the key senior figures in the party. Last month we reported on his suggestion that UK operators will have to reapply for a licence, if the Party manages to form a Government after the next election and now we’ll discuss his proposal for a new gambling ombudsman.

Gambling Ombudsman Would Work With The Commission And The NHS

Labour feel that the situation with gambling in the country is serious and that further action needs to be taken to prevent problem gambling and provide support in tackling predatory practices. The ombudsman will be supposed to protect consumers. In the wake of the series of scandals that shook that industry in the past few months, nobody should be surprised that Labour, or Tom Watson in particular came up with a new suggestion. In fairness, Watson is their guy when it comes to gambling-related issue and he is inclined to give gambling operators a hard time anyway.

Watson proposed the mentioned solution in a speech at an event organised by the pro-Labour thinktank Demos. He outlined the party’s plan to propose a new Gambling Act, in accordance with the party review that was published last year.

Basically, the goal is to form a complete tripartite system, where the ombudsman will play one of the key positions, together with the Gambling Commission which will remain in charge of regulating the industry and the NHS which would research problem gambling and help treat and prevent it, working together with other parties.

Other Labour Polices

As we mentioned the Party has already introduced a range of other policies and restrictions that they intend to implement if they get in power. One of the first things that the chief opposition party pledged to do is ban credit card gambling.

According to Watson the current system enables companies to do, as he put it, ‘dirty deals’ with people who have a problem in an attempt to avoid UKGC sanctions.

A while ago we found out that major operators like Ladbrokes accepted millions from problem gamblers, including punters who wagered stolen money. The operator admitted their mistake and they repaid the victims and they also paid a fine set by the UKGC, but people like Watson argue that no company would ever pay a fine unless being forced to by the regulators which is why they advocate for stronger regulations.

Watson also mentioned the case of a woman who was actively encouraged to continue gambling even after she loss over £40,000 on several credit cards. Watson went on to make a point that there is no other industry or sector where this would be possible. According to the proposal, the new ombudsman will have the power to impose fines and sanctions and even require companies to compensate their customers, if it is established that operators failed to protect them. The ombudsman will also check whether gambling terms and conditions are clear enough.