White Paper on UK Gambling Finally Released – Here Are The Key Points

27.04.2023

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Carl Hughes Betting Expert

Updated:April 27, 2023

The UK Government has finally released the long-anticipated White Paper on UK Gambling, which suffered several major delays and was the subject of a lot of speculation and apprehension across the industry. Interestingly, the major changes expected by industry experts and all those involved in the betting and gaming industry in the UK appear to have been very carefully limited. From a first read of the White Paper, it looks like the Government is making several important observations that would help modernise the UK gambling industry and ensure the safety of those using betting sites and land-based bookmakers without rocking the boat or jeopardising the industry too much. Indeed, the majority of the White Paper appears to focus on affordability checks and online safety. This is not surprising, as jurisdictions all across Europe have been tightening affordability and Know Your Customer checks for the past months and years, and the safety of those using betting sites has been brought to the forefront of the betting and gaming debate.

At this stage, the topics discussed in the White Paper are just proposals, and no immediate changes will take place unless betting sites and bookmakers decide to implement them voluntarily. Changes in the legislation and regulations will come in due course, after the Government consults all parties that would be affected by the changes, and decides exactly how to make them with the help of specialists and industry experts and after doing further research and preparation. It is expected that some of the changes will start being implemented as soon as the beginning of Q3 2024.

It comes as no surprise to anyone all licenced UK betting sites, big or small, will be expected to carry out a lot stricter checks on the financial situation, background, and source of income of their customers. A proposed net loss of £125 by any individual bettor within a month would trigger a financial check. Similarly, if a bettor loses less than £125 a month but reaches a net loss of £500 in a year, a check will have to take place. In the most extreme cases of gambling harm, net losses of £1,000 in a day or £2,000 in a 90-day period would cause the financial checks to be initiated. Naturally, bettors’ accounts will be placed on hold and they will not be able to place any further bets until the checks have been carried out.

The Government is also looking to introduce a stake limit for slot games on betting sites. The right limit has not been established yet, and all those involved will have to decide what limit is the most appropriate, with the Government suggesting that it should be somewhere between £2 and £15. It would not be surprising if the limit is based on the player’s age, as the White Paper is fielding a proposal for a limitation that would see bettors aged 18-24 unable to put down more than £2 per stake. Another factor that will be taken into consideration is the speed of a given game and it various features which may increase or decrease the risk of gambling harm associated with it.

On the other hand, casinos will now be able to offer more machines. At present, the limit was 20, however the White Paper is suggesting that this increases to 80. The ratio of machines can also see a change. Currently, casinos are allowed a split of 80/20 in terms of low and medium-maximum stake machines, but the split can soon become 50/50.

Another important issue in the White Paper is that of sports betting and the changes it requires. It appears that the Government is inclined to legalise sports betting in Casinos, which is already a thing in some states in America. At present, only those Casinos which hold the relevant licence under the 2005 Act can offer sports betting. This is not a huge disappointment for bettors however, as anyone who is keen to bet on sports while in Casino and surrounded by slots and live game tables can do so by simply opening one of the many licenced UK betting sites on their smartphone.

An important step in reducing the harm from gambling is that betting sites and bookmakers will have to share information with each other about those customers who are at high risk of harm, thus stopping them from creating an account on a betting site after maxing out an existing account on another one. As part of their social responsibility requirements, betting sites and operators will also see rules about advertising bonuses and promotions. Finally, as expected by specialists and industry experts, the Government is proposing a statutory levy to replace the one voluntarily paid by betting providers who are part of the Betting and Gaming Council in the UK. This levy will be used by the UK Gambling Commission to fund treatment of gambling harm, as well as research and education on responsible gambling. A separate levy is proposed for horse racing in order to fund the industry and keep alive and going the strong British horse racing tradition.

It is possible that all these new changes and regulations will be overseen and controlled by a newly created institution, a Gambling Ombudsman. This body would be responsible for resolving issues between customers and bookmakers, especially where gambling harm has occurred due to failings by the betting provider. A number of other changes have also been proposed, and these are to do with education, payments, licence fees, and the risk associated with underage gambling. We will review the Gambling Act in more detail and provide you with more information about the important changes and how the new regulations might work.

About the author

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".