An article was published yesterday on the UK political site politicshome.com penned by the UK Labour Party’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson, which is likely to cause a minor tremor in the collective boardrooms of iGaming companies which operate in the UK.
Watson, who is known for his somewhat outspoken views against the gambling industry in general, is proposing that all operators should have to reapply for a license to operate within the UK. With Watson being of the view that operators should undergo ‘proper scrutiny’ upon doing so.
Obviously, with the action taken in the past week or so by the Gambling Commission against operators, which has resulted in 7 figure financial penalties being levied, this has somewhat armed Watson’s cause, or some would call it his personal crusade against the gambling industry.
Watson in his piece on Politics Home goes on to state that he has held Gambling Reform as a key policy of his ever since 2005. Those of you around then will remember the then Labour government making swathing changes to the legislation covering the industry, with the introduction of the 2005 Gambling Act.
One of the ‘benefits’ of the act was to enable people to walk into a land based casino, without having to wait 24 hours via a cooling off period. As a side note, no land based casino performs the intrusive ‘Source of Wealth’ that many online casinos now force onto players.
However, Watson has himself being very vocal in his opposition to all forms of gambling whether it be in a ‘bricks and mortar’ establishment, or on a PC, Tablet or Smart Phone within an online environment.
Watson who sees gambling as a public health epidemic in the UK, now wants operators to have to reapply for their coveted UK Gambling Commission licenses, which in part will see the operators come under greater scrutiny, before said licenses are reissued.
One of the main issues Watson holds is against White Labels, which operate under the umbrella of a Master License holder. To this extent, yes he does have a point. With Watson lamenting the fact that some of these white labels operating legally within the UK are only contributing the bare minimum to the likes of GambleAware. In one such case, a white label operator only donated £50 to GambleAware in the past year.
Now promoting responsible gambling and having safeguards in place to ensure operators can identify and reduce gambling harm is a very good thing. But the real fear here is, that Watson in his actions to date, is on a personal crusade to curtail the industry at all levels. Disregarding the millions of people who gamble sensibly, within their own limits and with the ability of self control.
Rob Davies the Guardian Journalist who like Watson holds a view which could be seen as predatory towards the gambling industry also covered this story, in today’s Guardian Newspaper. Davies goes further, alluding to the fact that Watson will today call for a new gambling ombudsman to protect consumers. This being part of a new plan by the Labour Party to overhaul current gambling legislation that is in place.
Davies in his piece in the Guardian also writes that Watson will state that: “an ombudsman would form part of a tripartite system alongside industry regulator the Gambling Commission and the NHS, which would commission research into, education on and treatment of problem gambling.”
So could it be possible that the current regulations in place covering areas such as source of wealth could just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to playing your favourite slots at an online casino? Has the UK become too over protective and more of a ‘Nanny State’, rather than a regulator which looks out for the best interests and protections for consumers?
What is apparent though, is that if a General Election is called anytime soon ( Fixed Term Parliament Act notwithstanding ), the Labour Party and Watson, certainly according to the latest opinion polls, are unlikely to be in a position to form a government. Interesting times ahead regardless.
Let us know your thoughts and comments on the Casinomeister forum.