UK GAMBLING LAWS: One report suggests the government is proposing a ban on showing TV adverts before 9 PM.
Currently, only bingo operators or the adverts appearing in a live sporting event commercial break can advertise before the 9 PM 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 new rules, meant to stop problem gambling at bookmakers, are fundamentally flawed. Warnings 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, so-called ‘problem gamblers’ will choose ‘self-exclusion from betting shops’.
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 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.
Note: A response to a consultation sees a 55% increase in fee bands for the annual operating licences for online operators and takes full effect from the 1st of October 2021.
UK Gambling Commission
In 2015, the UK Gambling Commission announced the intentions of the regulator to change the laws. The move followed a lengthy countrywide industry consultation.
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. Even so, there is mounting criticism of the system. Not least, from gamblers struggling with addiction who feel the scheme will not work.
Note: Britain cuts the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to two pounds (£2). The announcement made in May 2018 came after the government opted to tackle problem gambling. They also rejected claims that the move will cost thousands of jobs.
Article Updated 2019
The UK Gambling Commission published extra igaming rules in February 2019. The outcome means that licensed operators must now:
- Complete all verification checks before a customer makes a deposit, place a bet with their own money or with bonus funds, or access free-to-play versions of online games.
- Inform customers (before they deposit funds) of the types of identity documents or other information they may require, the circumstances in which this information may be needed, and how the customer should supply it to them.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the information stored about the identities of their customers is accurate.
Pathological Gambling Disorder
Indeed, many of them who have excluded themselves from all bookmakers, recite FOBT 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 also wrote to betting chain chief executives demanding he got banned from their shops. He even got bookmakers to issue trespass notices against himself. 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, as well as 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.
Article Updated 2020
The Gambling Commission introduced a ban on using credit cards to place bets. Banning sports betting with a credit card should help those with problem gambling tendencies.
The credit card ban follows industry reviews carried out by the commission and the government. It takes full effect from the 14th of April 2020.
Gambling Commission statistics show 24 million adults gamble in Britain, and more than 10 million do so online.
Further research also shows that around 22% of online gamblers who use their credit card fall into the classification of ‘problem gamblers’.
The new regulations mean that all online gambling operators must start participating in the Gamstop self-exclusion scheme. Furthermore, they will need to offer it to all customers from the 31st of March 2020.
Note: Once an individual signs up for the Gamstop scheme they will be prevented from using British gambling websites and similar apps for a selected period of time.