Gambling white paper consultations published in step forward for reform

Gambling white paper consultations published in step forward for reform
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A public consultation process has been launched to look at how to conduct financial risk checks for problem gambling and at what level stake limits should be set for people playing online slot games.

The move is the next step of the Government’s gambling white paper to update gambling rules for the smartphone era and protect those at risk of gambling harm including young adults.

The gambling industry, clinicians, academics, those with firsthand experience of harm, and the general public are invited to share their views.

Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew said:

Three months ago we laid out proposals to update gambling laws and make them fit for the smartphone age.

Slot machines in casinos, arcades and betting shops have strict stake limits but very similar games online have none, which can lead to very large and rapid losses of money.

Today we are launching a consultation for a range of views on what the stake limit should be. I encourage you to have your say.

Online slot games are deemed a higher-risk gambling product, associated with large losses, long sessions and binge play.

According to NHS England surveys, 8.5 per cent of online slots, casino and bingo players report experiencing problem gambling, which is nearly 20 times higher than the adult population average. But unlike gaming machines in pubs, arcades and bookmakers, online slot games have no stake limits, which can make it too easy to incur potentially life-changing losses in minutes.

The Government is consulting on a maximum stake of between £2 and £15 per spin.

Public Health England research has also shown younger adults can be particularly vulnerable to gambling harms, due to a combination of common factors such as ongoing cognitive development and managing money for the first time.

The Government is also consulting on options to introduce greater protections when playing slots for 18 to 24-year-olds, such as lower stake limits of £2, £4, or requirements on operators to consider age as a risk factor for gambling-related harm.

While the online sector has seen significant growth since the 2005 Gambling Act, casinos and bingo halls continue to operate under outdated rules from that time, restricting their ability to compete.

Recommendations in today’s consultations will allow the land-based sector to thrive sustainably, respond to customer demand, and continue to recover from the impacts of Covid, while still protecting customers.

Gambling Commission Executive Director for research and policy Tim Miller said:

These consultations from the Government and the Gambling Commission offer the opportunity for people to have their say on proposals aimed at empowering and protecting consumers. Their launch represents a key moment in turning the commitments in the White Paper into reality.

Alongside the Government consultations, the Gambling Commission has also today published its own 12-week consultation on financial risk checks. These checks will force gambling operators to conduct checks to see if unusually high losses are likely to be harmful.

The Commission will also consult on improving consumer choice and giving players more control on direct marketing, meaning they will have options to opt-in to products and choose the channels they wish to receive marketing through.

Consultations to reduce the speed and intensity of online games, strengthen age verification in premises, look at management licences for operators and the processes of the Commission’s regulatory panel have also started today.

Later this summer, the Government will also launch a consultation on the details of the new gambling operator levy, a charge on betting companies, to fund gambling research, education and treatment, exploring options for the design of the levy, the amount to be collected, funding distribution and governance.

Health Minister Will Quince said:

Harmful gambling has widespread impacts. It affects more than people’s money, but their relationships and health as well.

We are working to protect people from the damaging impacts of harmful gambling by improving treatment options with specialist NHS gambling addiction treatment services.

Seven new gambling clinics will open this summer bringing vital support to more parts of the country, on top of the eight that are already open.

We will be working to better understand the evidence received in order to inform our approach.

The stake limit consultation published today will be open for 8 weeks, with the land based consultation lasting 10 weeks. Those with views or evidence to contribute are invited to do so via the page.