UK Regulatory Updates – Calls To Limit Online Gambling

Viktor Vangelov | Published 1 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Labour have announced their plan to introduce further online gambling restrictions if they win the next election, regarding whether its snap or general. That’s interesting, considering that, it was a Labour government that liberalised online gambling, i.e. enabled its expansion. The Party Deputy said that the current laws are “unfit for the digital age”.

It’s not like the current government isn’t being tough on online gambling, they have already lowered the wagering limit on fixed odds betting terminals, and the cut was quite drastic, from £100 to £2. The UK Gambling Commission has also been quite active in the past several months. They have already introduced new rules to improve fairness and safety. On the other hand, the ASA released new gambling guidance that will be enforced since April this year.

Labour Pledges To Limit Online Stake And Speed Of Play

Tow Watson who is currently shadow culture secretary, restated his and his party’s opinion that heavier restrictions on online gambling should be imposed. The online gambling market in the world is growing, it currently generates £4.7 billion per year.

In his speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research Watson mentioned a few examples of people who got into problems due to gambling, indicating that these things can and should be prevented. Problem gambling has been located as a key issue for the Labour Party and they will to aim to deal with it, if they get voters’ support. Watson went as far as saying that problem gambling is an emergency from a public health perspective.

The shadow secretary also stated that online operators have an obligation to protect players and that they should do everything within their power to stop people from placing bets that they can’t afford. He feels that the companies aren’t diligent when it comes to it.

Spend, stake and speed are the three things that should be controlled, according to the Labour Party. The idea is to give safeguards to players.

Will The Industry Sustain Additional Restrictions?

On the other hand, restrictions take their toll, and operators and the industry as a whole will clearly suffer if further restrictions are introduced. The decision to limit the amount that players can stake on fixed odds betting terminals could result in lost jobs. It is estimated that 1,000 might have to be sacked in Wales alone.

On the other hand, the Health Committee of the Welsh Assembly feel that this is a good decision, as FOBTs, in their opinion, ‘destroy live’. An owner of a bookmakers’ in Powys stated that the decision will not tackle problem gambling.

We might see further restrictions in terms of where new bookmakers can be opened, with the aim of stopping clusters from appearing in poor areas, where people are more susceptible to problem gambling.

Heavier Fines For Illegal Remote Gambling In The Netherlands

In other news, the Dutch regulator increased the fines for unlicensed online gambling. Apparently, previous fines were not scary enough for the operators. Now casino operators can be fined with a maximum of €200,000, whereas the previous limit was €150,000.

The Online Gambling Act was passed last month, and this enables the introduction of licensed and regulated gambling in the Netherlands. We can expect the first online gambling licenses to be issued at some point in 2020, most likely mid-year.