Monday, 4 November 2019

UK MPs Call For Overhaul Of Online Casino Regulation After Inquiry

Gambling Addiction

A group of cross-party MPs have called for an overhaul of online casino regulations.

A new report issued by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) demands an overhaul of the current gambling regulation laws and calls for a maximum stake limit at online casinos similar to the limit recently imposed on fixed-odds betting terminals this year.

The report was led by Labour’s Carolyn Harris, Conservative MP Duncan Smith and Ronnie Cowan from the SNP, and it comes after a six-month inquiry which involved evidence sessions with gambling companies as well as people suffering from gambling addictions.

In the report, MPs called for an end to credit card use at online casinos as well as the introduction of mandatory affordability checks to ensure that customers do not spend more than they can afford at online casinos. The report also suggested that online casinos should implement restrictions on VIP accounts, which MPs claim were the reasons many customers built giant debts.

What’s more, the report also called for the Gambling Act 2005 to be replaced while describing current laws as “ill-suited” to regulating an online sector. The group of MPs believe they have a good chance of influencing gambling policy with their report regardless of the outcome of the upcoming general election.

The release of the report comes after Labour called for stricter regulation regarding online gambling. Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been described as “sympathetic” for stricter regulation and was one of the MPs who criticised the government over delays to the stake limit on fixed-odds betting terminals.

What They Say

Brigid Simmonds OBE, the Chair of the Industry’s Betting and Gaming Council, explained in a statement that gambling companies were committed to “ensuring a safe gambling experience for all customers”.

She said: “Our members continue to invest significantly in new technology to make full use of data and algorithms to identify risk of harm and interact with customers at an early stage, and to introduce new affordability checks on customers.”

Duncan Smith, the Vice-Chair of the APPG said: “It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction.”

Labour’s Carolyn Harris said the report highlighted the urgent need for a review of the current online gambling regulation rules before criticising the UK Gambling Commission and stating that the regulator was “not fit for purpose” in the age of online gambling.

A spokesperson for the Commission released a statement regarding the report, saying: “We are disappointed that this report has been released before we have been given the chance to give evidence. The report does not reflect our considerable action and progress on most of the areas of concern set out in the report and we look forward to being given the chance to outline that work to the APPG.”