On December 8, 2020, the government launched the long-awaited review of the UK Gambling Act 2005.Law of 2005”) With a call for evidence that runs 16 weeks to March 31, 2021. Upon completion of the call for evidence, the government is expected to publish its conclusions and reform proposals in a white paper later this year.
The review follows recent developments such as reducing the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £ 100 to £ 2, tightening the age and identity verification rules, and making online operators mandatory to log in to GAMSTOP (the national Online multi-operator self-exclusion system) and the prohibition of the use of credit cards to finance gambling activities.
It is worth noting that other reforms of the UK gambling regime are also being made in the meantime. Only yesterday did the British Gambling Commission (the “GC”) Tougher measures announced for online slot games (e.g. limitation of spin speed and a ban on functions that speed up the game or celebrate losses as winnings), which the operators must implement by October 31, 2021. The GC is also considering stricter requirements for operators to improve customer protection such as interventions and affordability checks. Separately, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has launched a consultation on the funding of the GC and is considering an increase in license fees. Finally, the Department of Health and Welfare is also working on the harmful effects of gambling, an area that is likely to grow in importance following the recent WHO recognition of gambling disorder as an addictive behavior disorder.
With regard to the review of the 2005 law, the government’s strategy paper sets out three objectives:
- To investigate whether changes to gambling regulation are needed to reflect changes in the gambling landscape since 2005, particularly due to technological advances;
- on the other hand, to strike a fair balance between consumer choice and prevention of harm;
- to ensure customers stay protected wherever and whenever they play and to establish a fair regulatory approach to the online and land industries.
The call for evidence contains 45 questions in six different categories and the resulting general themes are listed below.