Delayed UK Gambling Review Could Cost Industry over £700m

There’s been more delays than on a railway timetable, but it seems July is the new estimated time of arrival. It’s not a train or a bus that will appear but the UK government’s review of the gambling industry.

The long-awaited White Paper is not expected to be good news for UK gambling companies. However, in certain areas, the upcoming news might not be as bad as expected by some in the industry but could still see over £700 million lost in earnings.

When Boris Johnson led the Tories to success in the 2019 General Election, the pledge was made to review the outdated 2005 Gambling Act. Worries over people becoming addicted to gambling and a lack of regulation of online betting led to this policy. The aim is to ‘transform the UK into the safest place to be online in the world’.

A lot has happened of course to delay the revealing of what the government has planned. It seems all will be known shortly but some of the rumoured changes may not be included.

Media reports indicate that there will be an emphasis on areas such as how much can be staked, affordability checks and restrictions on the offering of free bets and VIP packages.

It’s believed that the new regulation will see maximum stakes of between £2 and £5 at online casinos. Those who are losing a lot of money at online sites should not be offered free bets and inclusion in VIP packages. There would also be “non-intrusive” affordability checks on those having problems with their gambling.

There may also be rules introduced that see features in online games that “increase the level of risk for customers” being banned.

The UK Gambling Commission have been becoming a lot stricter in recent months. It’s believed the White Paper will see them given additional powers and more funding. The latter will see the industry having to pay additional fees.

A new ombudsman could be introduced to deal with customer disputes. That won’t distress the gambling industry too much as many do want to see that introduced.

One area that has received a great deal of discussion is the sponsorship of Premier League sides by gambling companies. Both Everton and Bournemouth have recently announced front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with and Dafabet respectively.

Calls for a ban on such sponsorship deals seem to have been dismissed by the upcoming White Paper. It’s believed that instead the Premier League will tell clubs to voluntarily refuse gambling sponsorships. Everton and Bournemouth couldn’t have been listening to that advice if it has taken place.

Talk of a mandatory levy on gambling companies being introduced also seem not to be in the White Paper. The levy would see funds raised being used to help research, education and treatment projects. If the gambling sponsorship and mandatory levy measures aren’t introduced, expect plenty of criticism from the Tory backbenches. Former leader, Iain Duncan Smith has already pledged to “go to war” if the review appears to have been watered down.

It seems instead that the government are just keen on eliminating the risk of gamblers making losses they simply cannot afford. A similar approach was taken with the gambling machines seen in High Street bookmakers.

The reduction in the maximum stake on those machines wasn’t good news for the finances of gambling companies. It’s believed that if the new rules in the gambling review do take place, it could see a fall of over £700 million in the finances of the gambling industry.