A group of MPs is seeking to overhaul the existing gambling law, and at this point, one of their first proposals includes limiting stakes at online casinos.
This move would resemble the recently-imposed £2 limits on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Imposing Strict Measures
According to this cross-party group of MPs, the proposed measures are aimed at protecting vulnerable people. Their report suggests introducing a £2 stake limit on online slot machines and putting an end to betting using credit cards. If adopted, it would also impose certain restrictions on VIP accounts, and conduct a thorough investigation into non-disclosure agreements.
The group, which includes high-profile Conservatives such as Iain Duncan Smith, Labour’s Carolyn Harris, and Ronnie Cowan from the SNP, claims that the existing piece of legislation, adopted back in 2005, is outdated and not suitable to regulate the UK’s online sector. At this moment, this lucrative sector brings around £5.6 billion every year.
Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming general election, MPs are certain they will be able to implement the necessary changes to the country’s gambling policy. Even Labour, which liberalised gambling legislation under Blair, has stated on several occasions a stricter regime should be enforced.
The report published by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) was compiled after a thorough inquiry, which included sessions with both gambling companies and problem gamblers.
Limiting Stakes in Online Casinos
When it comes to the proposed £2 bet limit on online slot machines, the report states that if such a measure is applied in brick and mortar casinos, there are no obstacles to be introduced online as well.
But the MPs would go a step further and put an end to using credit cards to gamble. Such a measure would be followed with the introduction of affordability checks, which should keep players from getting into financial problems.
Online casinos and bookmakers rarely check on the finances of their customers, and many of them often get into serious financial trouble.
Another of the recommendation would impose restrictions on VIP accounts, as several players pick up substantial debts by using various bonuses and free tickets.
Overhauling the Country’s Current Legislation
“This report highlights the urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of online gambling. Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector. It is not at all clear why the Gambling Commission is not looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator,” said APPG Chair Carolyn Harris.
“Our members continue to invest significantly in new technology to make full use of data and algorithms to identify the risk of harm and interact with customers at an early stage, and to introduce new affordability checks on customers,” said Brigid Simmonds OBE, the chair of the industry’s Betting and Gaming Council.
The reports also pointed out gambling companies couldn’t exactly define what level of gambling was considered affordable. In practice, this meant they were not able to intervene in the right way when their customers were losing significant sums of money.
Interestingly enough, no one from the country’s gambling regulator, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, had the chance to review the report.
The UKGC quickly responded: “The report does not reflect our considerable action and progress on most of the areas of concern set out in the report and we look forward to being given the chance to outline that work to the APPG.”
To summarize, the report calls for online companies to increase their efforts when it comes to identifying vulnerable customers and protect minors from the harmful influence of gambling.