The most revolutionary study of gambling in the United Kingdom in 18 years has finally been published, after years of delays and conjecture.
The publishing of the Gambling Act review white paper marks a watershed moment in how gambling will be regulated in the UK in the age of smartphones and 24/7 internet access.
To say the review has been eagerly anticipated is an understatement. The publication of the white paper has been keenly anticipated by industry trade associations, operator groups, and industry critics alike.
Since the UK government announced the study two years and four months ago, there have been two prime ministers' resignations and appointments, a proclamation of a cost of living crisis, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
While the white paper document covers most of what the industry expected, it also includes a few surprises, such as the addition of a gaming ombudsman to provide customers with a single point of contact for industry questions.
Lucy Frazer, secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), identified five important terms included in the white paper this morning, the majority of which had been suspected for some time.
The following are the full terms:
Players who lose £1,000 in 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days will be subject to thorough affordability tests.
Operators will now be required to conduct "passive" checks on players who have a net loss of more than £125 per month, or £500 per year.
A stake-limits consultation
DCMS plans to adopt a slot stake limit and will hold a consultation on this restriction, which will be between £2 and £15 per spin.
Lower thresholds are imposed for new accounts.
Proposition that triggers for more enhanced checks be cut in half for 18-24 year olds since they are more likely to be at greater risk of gambling hazards.
RET new funding
Operators will be required to pay an obligatory statutory levy to the UK Gambling Commission, which will support gambling harm research, education, and treatment (RET).
The DCMS will have a consultation on the design and scope of this in the summer of 2023.
A dispute resolution ombudsman
Establishment of an operationally independent gambling ombudsman to handle player concerns
The ombudsman's information will allow the UK Gambling Commission to conduct more focused enforcement and assist the industry in supporting disadvantaged groups.
Participation in the ombudsman will be initially voluntary. If the concept of an ombudsman is not widely embraced in the industry, DCMS will legislation to demonstrate its necessity.
Aiding the Gambling Commission
The Commission will conduct a review of online game design standards, including "intensifying features" that potentially increase danger.
Furthermore, stricter controls on VIP programmes are needed to protect those who are vulnerable to gambling risk.
In 2024, the Commission's fees will be reviewed to ensure that it has the resources to implement the white paper's suggestions.
The regulator will raise the bar for licensees who operate white label casinos for a third party brand.
The regulation of prize draws and competitions will be investigated.
Reducing land-based constraints
Under-18s are not permitted to use category D gaming machines, popularly known as fruit machines.
After evaluating the impact on player protection, DCMS will collaborate with the Commission to develop consultation options for contactless payments.
The Commission will explore revising its land-based licensees' age verification motto, Think 21, to Think 25.
Casinos will be allowed to provide sports betting on their property.
Limits on the number of slot machines at larger casinos will be relaxed, with a 5:1 slot-to-table-game ratio.
Smaller casinos will be permitted to host an additional number of machines on a pro-rata basis, with the amount decided by their size and non-gambling floorspace.
The Commission will hold a public consultation on new suggested customer controls, such as the opportunity to opt-in to online bonuses and other online gaming offers.
Informational message on the dangers of gambling will be strengthened and made more effective.
Tackling the black market
There is now a voluntary agreement in place with payment providers that blocks unlawfully operating gambling websites. The DCMS is considering making this statutory, which would empower the Commission to seek a court order compelling providers to block specific sites.
By fLEXI tEAM