Controversial new proposals from the UK Gambling Commission could see a £100 monthly loss limit imposed on players at online sport betting sites and casinos.
The regulator has opened up a ten-week consultation period that will see industry members, bettors and other stakeholders invited to offer their views on the radical plan, which will see an affordability threshold introduced for all punters.
The Commission is welcoming views on a range of topics ahead of a possible reform of the Gambling Act 2005, which the government is rumoured to be re-jigging ahead of 2021. It’s clear, however, that the UKGC wants to pre-empt the government, introducing their own regulation and responsible gambling practices that will (hopefully) minimise the government’s own rehashing of the law.
The basis for the £100 limit comes from an examination of ‘discretionary income’, i.e. the amount of money an individual has to spend after their bills, taxes and basic living costs have been accounted for. In many cases, this is thought to be less than £250 a month.
As things stand, the threshold limit is £2,000 a month, although campaigners believe this is completely unrealistic given that for many punters a ‘problem’ spend on their betting will be considerably less. And so vulnerable bettors are not being protected appropriately.
But the £100 limit would only be introduced where a player is assessed as being at financial risk. If their assessment passes without concern, it’s likely that a higher limit would be imposed.
The Commission has reiterated that not all operators are falling below its standard for customer protection, and that the proposed change is merely to bring the whole industry in line together. And current deposit limits would be unaffected – it would only be losses that are scrutinised.
Tim Miller, executive director of the UK Gambling Commission, said:
“While some operators have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels. We are clear on the need for gambling companies to take further action and that the Commission must set firm requirements to set consistent standards.”
Time Limits and VIP Schemes On the Radar
There are other consultations and questions being asked about the state of the betting industry ahead of what could be a hectic spell of gambling reform in the UK. Those include the introduction of mandatory time limits, e.g. the period which a punter can be actively logged into an account, and also the thorny topic of VIP programmes.
The Commission has already begun a full-scale investigation into VIP schemes, with their conclusion that further suitability checks should be made before a bettor is given VIP status. Operators must also name a nominated individual who is personally responsible for the wellbeing of VIP customers.
Quite how time limits would be imposed remains to be seen, and already most firms offer a voluntary limit on time spent on site as part of their responsible gaming measures. Another possibility is that individuals will only be able to login to their betting accounts a certain number of times within a specified timeframe.