SMF proposes new UK gambling regulations

Simona Boshkova | Published 6 Aug 2020, 10:11 a.m.

The UK gambling industry has been a subject of many proposals and new measures in the past few months. For example, the Gambling-Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has called for a ban on all gambling advertisements in the UK. Later, we’ve reported that the House of Lords Gambling Industry Committee proposed stricter gambling measures. As a result of these proposals, the UK Gambling Commission opened a consultation process on making online slots safer for the players.

However, the proposals for the UK gambling market don’t stop there. Namely, the cross-party think-tank Social Market Foundation (SMF) announced a new framework for gambling regulations, including a new £100-a-month spending cap.

Major changes in the UK gambling regulations

Yesterday, the think-tank Social Market Foundation (SMF) published a report calling for changes in the UK gambling regulations. The report contains a comprehensive new framework for gambling and was published just ahead of the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

One of the major changes that SMF is proposing is a £100-a-month spending cap in order to help limit potential harm. With this limit, players who want to spend more will be subject to strict affordability checks by an independent gambling ombudsman. In addition, SMF called for major changes in the way gambling companies are taxed, proposing increased operating costs for companies based outside the UK. In their statement, SMF said that companies registered abroad could still operate in locations like the Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Alderney, but that decision would carry tax implications.

Furthermore, SMF recommended new affordability checks with a soft cap on spending, so that anyone who wants to spend more than £23 a week on gambling products will have to prove that they could afford to lose the money without harm. The report also includes stake limits on online slots, proposing that the limits should be set between £1 and £5. The lead author of the report is Dr James Noyes who said that a fixed cap for the operators is the only way to protect players from harmful spend. He added that the SMF’s proposal sets the bar low enough to protect everyone and that the UK gambling market needs to see an end to the problem of offshore gambling tax avoidance.

BGC dismisses the deposit limits in the SMF proposal

After publishing the report, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has responded to the SMF proposals. In their response, the BGC highlighted that they support many of the measures proposed by SMF and that they welcome different perspectives on how gambling should be monitored and improved. The Council said that the SMF’s report is a thoughtful study ahead of the Government’s review of the Gambling Act and that the report states that there is no rise in problem gambling.

Although the BGC supports some of the measures in the report, they don’t agree with the implementation of a low spending cap. According to BGC, this would see players turn to unregulated sites, a situation that happened in some countries that have placed spend restrictions on online gambling services. The Council added that they already carry out robust affordability checks and regularly intervene on players to ensure that they play with what they can afford.