Gambling Regulation in the UK set to get tighter

By Dave Sawyer, Last updated Apr 25, 2023

For those of you that are regular readers of the iGaming industry news here on Casinomeister, you will know that the government in Westminster is in the process of looking at overhauling the 2005 Gambling Act, that was brought into being by the then Tony Blair led Labour Government.

Indeed we have reported back on the 8th December 2020 that the UK Government planned to review and overhaul the current Gambling Act, which coincided with the news that the minimum age to play the National Lottery would rise to the age of 18 in October 2021.

Earlier yesterday morning the BBC reported that the government are now expected to act sooner rather than later in tightening the existing regulation that is currently in place.

Indeed many changes for the good have occurred over the past few years, with the removal of the reverse withdrawal ‘facility’ and the use of the word ‘facility’ is used lightly. Plus affordable gambling settings becoming a prerequisite for people opening an account at an online casino.

Then there is the double edged sword known as  ‘Source of Wealth’, whereby as part of licensed operators commitments to responsible gambling and anti money laundering regulations, UK players have to jump through many a hoop at some online establishments, just to be able to cash out their winnings.

A ‘Call for evidence’ was then undertaken with DCMS asking all stakeholders in the gambling industry to take part, this ran until the end of March 2021.

Obviously a lot has happened over the intervening past couple of years, with the COVID pandemic requiring the vast majority of the government’s time and focus. However, the review of the Gambling Act in its current form has not gone away and it now transpires that the much talked about overhaul is soon to go ahead.

Only yesterday it was reported that top flight football clubs in England will enact a voluntary ban of shirt sponsorship by gambling companies.  The BBC also lists the following as the key areas which will likely be considered in the forthcoming white paper to be introduced to parliament:

  • Statutory rather than voluntary levy for gambling firms – campaigners are hopeful this will be implemented after earlier doubts

  • Affordability checks for gamblers – a consultation is expected on the level at which these would kick in

  • Tighter controls around advertising and marketing – the Premier League is likely to agree a voluntary deal restricting front-of-shirt adverts

  • Maximum stakes for online slots – £2 limit expected for each bet

The first issue of a statutory levy on gambling firms should not be an issue or cause of concern for players. Indeed, I can see the reasoning behind such a move. Likewise when it comes to the third point concerning advertising and marketing of gambling.

However, in relation to the affordability checks for gamblers, we have seen documented here on the forum on Casinomeister, operator ‘source of wealth’ checks already causing in some instances insurmountable issues for players on being able to receive their withdrawals in a timely manner.

Some may even be of the opinion and take the view that SoW is being used as a vehicle to stall making legitimate payouts due. Or that operators are so scared of being subjected to a UKGC investigation concerning their responsible gambling and AML regulations that they have to adhere to as part of their licensing obligations, that they are being ultra cautious. With the player getting the short end of the stick as a result.

The last point though if it does make the white paper and is subsequently brought in, could very well become the final nail in the coffin for the regulated online casino industry in the UK.

A £2 stake limit on online slots will see what players that still play at UK licensed and regulated online casinos seriously consider their options. Likewise, the smaller independent operators that hold a UKGC licence may also decide to follow others before them and decide to leave the UK marketplace.

Let us know your thoughts in the forum, could this mooted white paper be the death knell of the online gambling industry in the UK as we know it?

Dave Sawyer

Dave has been involved in the Online Gambling industry for 20 odd years now. With experience working for an operator based in Gibraltar, where he headed up the IT team at Ladbrokes, to running his own iGaming affiliate websites until 2019.

Dave now writes for Casinomeister and sister site Casino Gazette. You may also see him on the forum from time to time, where he goes by the handle Webzcas.

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