The resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has again delayed the release of the White Paper into gambling reforms. It’s not going to be until at least September that we find out just what the long review has produced.
It’s recognised that the 2005 Gambling Act needs to be reformed. The UK gambling industry has seen so many changes in the 17 years since that legislation was passed. One possible change that will be announced is stricter affordability checks. This is a measure that many fear might cause gamblers to head to the unregulated black market.
The UK government and whoever the new Prime Minister will be have a difficult task ahead of them. Reform is needed but there’s a fine balance between introducing helpful measures and those that will make life unpleasant for those who enjoy gambling.
The rumours are that limits will be set on how much gamblers can spend at online gambling sites. When losses of a certain amount are made or high deposits made, affordability checks will come into play.
Players having to submit their bank accounts to show they can afford their gambling level won’t be popular at all.This year has seen the publication of a survey by YouGov that showed this to be the case.
65% of those who were asked about this said it would cause more players to leave regulated betting sites. They would instead go to the black market where regulation just doesn’t exist. This puts players at more risk.
Those leaving the regulated market might even include those who don’t have a gambling problem. That could then see them develop problems once free of any regulation. Nearly 56% said that they didn’t believe the government should be setting any limits.
The new gambling laws might not be passed until next year. That puts this controversial legislation even closer to the next General Election. That is likely to be held in late 2024 and one key aim of the government is to retain the ‘Red Wall’ seats that helped win them a large majority in the 2019 poll.
A survey carried out by Public First shows that the Tories need to be careful with this new legislation. A factory worker in Doncaster said that the government “shouldn’t be sticking their nose in” and that he should be allowed to “do what I please with my money.”
In Blackpool,one of the respondents was scared that the government might be creating a “nanny stake” and making a mockery of people and their ability to just be grown-ups.”
Recently the government lost the Wakefield seat they had won in the last General Election. The worries of constituents regarding possible new gambling laws was already evident. One voter said that the government should be concentrating on those who had gambling problems, not regulating everyone. Another respondent in Wakefield said “I’m not daft. I know what I’ll put on.”
Similar views were expressed in Wolverhampton. The fear was of it creating a “Big Brother style country.” Others were concerned about measures that could affect the gambling industry with a racecourse and casino in the area.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) believe that there should be some enhanced spending checks but aimed towards those who are vulnerable and not be too intrusive. The BGC chief executive Michael Dugher believes the increased affordability checks would spoil the enjoyment of many gamblers. That has to be the aim of the government as the last thing they need at present is upset voters.