Limits for U25 gamblers to be expected amidst UK gambling legislation revision
Although a total ban on gambling advertising is not expected, the Premier League may agree to a deal that would ban sponsorship on the front of team shirts
The gambling industry, excluding the National Lottery, generated nearly £10bn before tax in the 2021/22 financial year (Representational photo: Getty Images)
Kenneth D. Albers
As the UK government prepares to make significant changes to the gambling legislation, young online gamblers under the age of 25 may soon face strict limits on the amount they can bet. Ministers are said to be considering caps on online slot game bets, ranging from £2 to £15, with a £2 limit specifically imposed on under-25s. This move is part of a larger effort to tackle problem gambling and its associated issues.
The culture department, responsible for overseeing gambling laws, has not commented on the matter. However, MPs who have been advocating for stricter gambling restrictions have expressed their anticipation for the introduction of new taxes on gambling firms and stake limits. They also expect more stringent affordability checks to ensure that customers are not gambling beyond their means.
The government’s proposed new laws are set to be published in the coming weeks. Dubbed the “white paper,” this document will detail the most significant overhaul of the gambling industry in over two decades. Initially announced in late 2020, it has experienced several delays. When enacted, these new regulations will apply to England, Scotland, and Wales, with separate gambling laws in place for Northern Ireland.
In addition to the stake limits, the white paper is also likely to address advertising and sponsorship issues in the gambling industry. Although a total ban on gambling advertising is not expected, the Premier League may agree to a deal that would ban sponsorship on the front of team shirts. This move follows the reduction of maximum bets on fixed-odds terminals in bookmakers’ shops from £100 to £2 in 2018.
Leaked information suggests that a new tax on betting firms to fund addiction and support services could be set at around 1% of profits. Currently, firms contribute to research, education, and treatment related to gambling harm on a voluntary basis. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), representing gambling companies, claims that its largest members have pledged £100m ($125m) over four years.
In anticipation of the proposed new laws for gambling companies, various sources have been analysing the potential impact of these changes on the industry. For example, Business2Community reports on the regulation of UK online casinos, emphasising the importance of understanding the laws and regulations around gambling online locally. As the government works to finalise the white paper, which aims to strike a balance between allowing people to enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment and minimising potential harm, stakeholders are keen to understand how these changes will reshape the gambling landscape in the UK, particularly for young gamblers and the promotion of responsible gambling practices.
The BGC has stated that it is “relaxed” about the introduction of a mandatory levy, as contributions from its members are “already on the table.” However, it has expressed concerns about a 1% blanket tax on all gambling companies. The BGC argues that such a tax would be unfair to firms operating betting shops, which face higher running costs and property taxes.
In response to the potential curbs on online slot games, a BGC spokesperson said that the council had been working with the government on the issue. The spokesperson emphasised the importance of ensuring that any future restrictions are “proportionate” and “carefully targeted.”
The last Labour government liberalised gambling laws, but the party’s current leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has expressed support for tighter regulation. Starmer notes that the gambling industry has undergone significant changes since the previous legislation was enacted. He plans to closely examine the new measures when they are published.
The gambling industry, excluding the National Lottery, generated nearly £10bn before tax in the 2021/22 financial year. Of this total, £6.4bn came from remote (mostly online) betting, bingo, and casino games, while £3.5bn was derived from the land-based sector, including arcades, bingo halls, casinos, and betting shops. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the gambling industry paid £3.2bn in tax during the same financial year.
It is estimated that between 250,000 and 460,000 problem gamblers reside in Great Britain. Support for addiction issues is available through the BBC Action Line.
Intense lobbying has taken place behind the scenes in recent months at Westminster as the government finalised the details of the new legislation. This process has sparked concerns over the relationship between MPs and the gambling industry, with some MPs describing the connection as too cosy. Betting companies have spent tens of thousands of pounds inviting MPs from the Conservative, Labour, and other parties to various events in the past few years, including Ascot races, Wimbledon, football matches, music gigs, and awards ceremonies.
In a statement, the culture department said it was working to finalise the details of the white paper to ensure that gambling laws are “fit for the digital age.” This revision is vital as the gambling landscape has shifted dramatically since the last major update to the legislation.
As online gambling continues to grow, it is essential that safeguards are put in place to protect vulnerable individuals, particularly younger gamblers who may be more susceptible to addiction. The proposed changes aim to strike a balance between allowing people to enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment while minimising the potential harm it can cause.
One of the key focuses of the revised legislation will be promoting responsible gambling practices. This includes introducing stake limits for under-25s and ensuring that companies conduct thorough affordability checks. By imposing these measures, the government hopes to reduce the number of problem gamblers and the impact of gambling-related harm on society.
While the new laws are not expected to include a total ban on gambling advertising, further restrictions on advertising and sponsorship deals may be introduced. These changes could help reduce the visibility of gambling companies and the pressure on individuals to engage in gambling activities.
The proposed 1% tax on betting firms’ profits to fund addiction and support services is a significant step towards ensuring that the industry contributes to addressing the problems it can create. By making the levy mandatory, the government can guarantee a more consistent flow of funding to organisations dedicated to helping those affected by gambling addiction.
As the UK government prepares to release the white paper detailing the new gambling legislation, it is crucial that the proposed changes are carefully considered and targeted. Striking the right balance between allowing the industry to thrive and protecting vulnerable individuals will be key to ensuring that the new laws are effective in tackling the challenges posed by the ever-evolving world of gambling.
In conclusion, the upcoming revisions to the UK gambling legislation aim to address the growing concerns around problem gambling and the impact of the industry on society. With a focus on protecting young gamblers, promoting responsible gambling practices, and ensuring that the industry contributes to addiction support services, the new laws are set to make significant changes to the gambling landscape in the UK. As the details of the white paper are finalised, all eyes will be on the government to deliver a comprehensive and effective solution to the complex issues surrounding the gambling industry in the digital age.