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Regulations Target Problem Gamblers

New Regulations for Problem Gamblers

The UK government considers introducing a new gambling law. The regulation change could ban gambling operators from day time advertising.

UK GAMBLING LAWS: One report suggests the government is proposing a ban on showing TV adverts before 9 pm.

Currently only bingo operators or adverts appearing in a live sporting event's commercial breaks can advertise before the 9pm watershed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said they continue to monitor the existing gambling controls. They will take further action if it becomes necessary.

But, there could be a new regulatory system for UK betting shops.

Addicts and campaigners say the introduction of rules meant to stop problem gambling at bookmakers, are fundamentally flawed. The warning came as the newly introduced regulatory system came into effect from April 2016 in the United Kingdom.

Betting Shops Sharing Information

Betting shops around the UK must now share relevant information on gambling addicts. Often, these 'problem gamblers' choose to be 'self-excluded' from bookmakers.

The new sharing system allows betting shop staff to identify and ban where appropriate. That means they will ban individuals who are problem gamblers. But, the new rules got criticized by gambling addicts and campaigners. They suggested the regulations were inadequate and fruitless.

Localized Risk Assessments

Bookmakers are now required to conduct local area risk assessments. They must outline how they intend to mitigate crime. They also need to show how they can help reduce the effects of gambling for the most vulnerable.

Most significant is having to share personal information about so-called problem gamblers. In particular, those who have chosen to be 'self-excluded' from gambling at bookmakers and betting shops.

The change in the regulatory system means that addicts only need to fill in one form instead of multiple forms.

The newly introduced single form means they are able to block themselves from all gambling operators' shops. This applies even when there are many betting establishment in one locale.

UK Gambling Commission

In 2015, the Gambling Commission announced the intentions of the regulator to change the laws. The move followed a lengthy countrywide industry consultation.

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT)The resulting conclusions were to 'strengthen social responsibility'.

The debate focused on the spread of 'fixed-odds betting terminals'. FOBTs are disproportionately found in poorer parts of the country.

But, they generated a whopping revenue of £1.7bn for bookmakers in 2015.

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT)

Each betting shop can have no more than four fixed-odds betting terminals. Gamblers using an FOBT can place stakes of up to £100 laid on casino games.

There is also a maximum delay of only 20 seconds between each wager. There is mounting criticism of the system. Not least, from gamblers struggling with addiction who feel the scheme will not work.

Pathological Gambling Disorder

Indeed, many of them who have excluded themselves from all bookmakers, recite horror stories of how their addiction cost them their homes and jobs. Many got diagnosed by psychiatrists as having a pathological gambling disorder.

One of them told how he took extraordinary measures to stop his addiction. He wrote to betting chain chief executives demanding he got banned from their shops. He even got bookmakers to issue trespass notices against him. And yet, he said he was always allowed to bet in the end.

Any self-exclusion system based on paper is a flawed system. It relies on a person in one shop recognizing you. That doesn’t happen. I have self-excluded myself, taken extreme steps, but I still have ended up having a meltdown," he said.

The scheme got trialed in Chatham in Kent last year with mixed results. Gamblers could ban themselves from all betting shops in the town by filling in one simple form. A test investigation found that eight of the 10 bookmakers did not prevent a journalist from gambling on their premises. This was despite the fact that he had signed up to get excluded.

A spokesman for the Association of British Bookmakers responded by saying:

"The new self-exclusion scheme, rolled out nationally this month, is a significant advance on the previous scheme. A customer had to enter into an individual agreement with each betting shop before. Now there is a freephone helpline with a one-stop process for self-exclusion.

There are over 8,000 betting shops in the United Kingdom. Developing a one-stop shop for self-exclusion has involved significant investment on the part of betting shop operators. We will continue to refine and build on this program over time."

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling reiterated the flaws of the current system. The new regulations rely on staff memorizing countless self-excluded customers from each betting shop. They said nothing will improve because the ruling guidelines are paper-based.

Relying on staff recognition alone, means the breach rate is likely to remain high. The government and the Gambling Commission should realize that almost all self-exclusions relate to FOBTs. Thus, reducing the maximum stake per spin has more chance of decreasing problem gambling among addicts.

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