UK Market in the News — Weekly Round-up for May 04, 2018

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated May 4, 2018

Gamstop Now Live With Some Major Online Gambling Groups

Participation mandatory for UK licensed operators by end 2018

GAMSTOP, the UK national self-exclusion system pioneered by the Remote Gaming Association and the UK Gambling Commission, is now live with a number of major UK-licensed online gambling groups, including Ladbrokes and Paddy Power Betfair.

Forum reports from players who have tested the system indicate that it is fast, easy to use and effective. There is a free helpline open from 8 am to midnight for registration issues and extensions of existing exclusions, accessible here: 0800 138 6518.

Players can exclude for 6 months, 1 year or 5 years. Whilst the majority of major UK operators have joined the scheme, some are in the process of participating, as by the end of 2018 it will be compulsory under UKGC rules.

The national gambling helpline also provides free support until midnight daily for those needing confidential advice, information and emotional support: 0808 8020 133.

The RGA has opened a dedicated GAMSTOP office to deal with any enquiries, and the team can be reached on 01423 790354 or via e-mail to Fiona Palmer ( ) or Katie Reynolds-Jones ( ) directly.

Gambling Groups Appeal To UK Government On FOBT Issue (Update)

GBP 2 limit would have a “catastrophic impact on jobs and the economy”

The BBC reports that several British gambling firms have penned a letter to the UK government Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, appealing for more consideration before any radical cuts to Fixed Odds Betting Terminal maximum stakes are brought into force.

The groups reportedly include Ladbrokes’ owner GVC, William Hill, Betfred, Scotbet, and Jenningsbet, who claim in their communication that the imposition of a GBP 2 limit would have a “catastrophic impact on jobs and the economy” and produce a study by independent professional business services provider KPMG to substantiate their appeal.

Together with the Association of British Bookmakers, the bookmakers are now seeking a meeting with Hancock, who is believed to favour the cut to GBP 2, and who is set to publish the final decision following a DCMS review (see previous InfoPowa reports).

In their letter, the companies caution: “A maximum stake of GBP 2 on FOBTs is a de facto ban on the machines as the games are not feasible at that level.”

Their appeal follows recent media reports quoting sources who have said that previous opposition to too radical a cut by the Chancellor has been overcome, and the DCMS is about to impose the GBP 2 maximum stake.

“As the chief executives of UK retail betting shops we would like to express our alarm, that according to media reports, the government has determined that the maximum stake on betting shop gaming machines should be reduced from GBP 100 to the lowest possible level of GBP 2,” say the gambling executives in their letter.

“We acknowledge that the government is committed to reducing the maximum stake, however this should be a proportionate response and consistent with the evidence.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, we believe a GBP 2 maximum stake is a disproportionate response and will be catastrophic for retail betting in the UK, with widespread consequences for people’s livelihoods and the wider economy.”

The KPMG analysis estimates that a GBP 2 stake would result in 21,000 direct job losses, with half of betting shops closing, a loss to HM Treasury of GBP 1.1 billion over the next three years, a loss to local authorities of GBP 45 million and to British Racing of GBP 50 million per annum.

William Hill reportedly derives 54 percent of its retail revenue from gaming machines, whilst Paddy Power Betfair’s exposure would be around 6 percent.

Fierce UK Horse Race Channel Rivalry Heats Up

With launch of Sky Sports Racing

Sky Sports has signed a ten-year deal with British horse racing tracks Chester and Bangor-on-Dee as it anticipates the launch of its new dedicated Sky Sports Racing channel to replace At The Races.

Sky Sports Racing, available in HD, will be open to all Sky TV customers in the UK and Ireland at no additional cost. In addition, the channel will accommodate the ever growing mobile channel.

The channel will initially feature live coverage on over 650 local fixtures as well as exclusive international race meetings.

Managing Director of Sky Sports, Barney Francis, said: “We’ve seen a great reaction from our customers to launching dedicated sports channels and this takes us to another level.

“Horse racing is a massive sport that Sky has been involved in for two decades, now we will have a channel to give our customers more of what they love every day.

Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas added: “We see real value in what the partnership can bring across TV, digital and social media, for us and for our sponsor partners. There is a lot of crossover between our core audiences and an opportunity to extend our reach more broadly via the Sky family of channels including Sky Sports News. We will be working very closely with the teams at Sky Sports and ATR in what will be a genuinely collaborative relationship.”

Sky Sports Racing becomes Sky’s eleventh dedicated sports channel, joining Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports F1®, Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Cricket, alongside Action and Arena, Main Event, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Mix.

UKGC Publish 2018-19 Business Plan

First of three publications forms regulator’s three-year strategy

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published the first of three business plans this week, outlining its focus and priorities in terms of protecting consumer’s interests, problem gambling, the raising of standards, charity returns, and improvements in regulatory functions.

The first publication, covering the 2018-19 period, forms part of the Commission’s three year strategy in which it says it will be pushing industry to designing-in protections and control measures from the beginning of product development and accelerate the progress that operators are already making on consumer interventions.

William Moyes, Chair of the Gambling Commission, said: “Our ambitious plans for the next 12 months and beyond are designed to enable us to continue to respond to emerging risks and issues in a way that balances consumer choice and enjoyment with the risks associated with gambling, and the impact on wider society.

“Our strategy and plans will deliver real change for consumers, the gambling industry and for us as the regulator. Our aim is to make gambling fairer and safer and to raise standards across the industry.”

The 2018-19 Business Plan can be accessed here and the three-year strategy document, here.

Pinnacle Abandons Attempt To Licence In The UK

“This is not the right time,” operator says

Malta-licensed online betting operator and B2B platform supplier Pinnacle has taken to social media to announce that it has abandoned its attempt to obtain UK licensing from the Gambling Commission.

The company had planned a 2017 launch for UK operations but was unable to achieve this due to delays in its application review.

In a brief notice the company advised that whilst it was “eager” to enter the UK market, “the decision has been made that now is not the right time.”

The advisory goes on to assure UK players that it remains committed to bringing its services to the UK “when the time is right.”

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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