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Will a Free Bet Ban and ‘Non Intrusive’ Affordability Checks Part of UK Gambling Industry Reform?

New Rules Under Torn PaperThe UK government is set to publish its White Paper into the gambling sector in the coming days, and a number of media outlets are reporting that this could be ‘softer’ on the industry than previously feared.

However, some of the rumoured measures, which include a ban on free bet offers and so-called ‘non intrusive affordability checks, could have wide-ranging implications for the sector and push punters towards the unregulated black market.

There could also be a curb on the maximum stake that players are able to wager when playing online slots and table games, with a figure of between £2 and £5 mooted.

According to the Racing Post, the new measures could cost the gambling industry as much as £700 million.

The government’s gambling review got underway in earnest back in December 2020, but a catalogue of delays has forced the publication of their findings to be delayed until July. They have already offered a ‘soft launch’ of their White Paper in The Times newspaper, which hinted at the measures that could be implemented.

What are Affordability Checks?

Credit Score on Laptop Screen

Although it hasn’t been confirmed that the specific amount will be, it’s quite possible that punters will have to prove they can lose what they bet if they wager over a certain threshold per month – some have suggested this could be as low as £100.

Originally, it was thought that bookies would have to ask their customers for documentary evidence that they could afford to lose the amount they are betting – be it through bank statements or wage slips.

However, it’s looking likely that non intrusive measures, such as ‘soft’ credit checks that don’t affect the individual’s rating, will be adopted instead.

Is This the End of Free Bets and Bonuses?

Gift Prohibited LogoOne of the more damning tenets of the government’s gambling review could be a ban on free bets and bonus offers.

Those would likely cost bookies tens of millions per year in revenue, with sign-up offers a key ‘loss leader’ for the sector.

It’s bad news for punters too, who are able to test out a bookmaker or betting app potentially without parting with their own hard earned money.

The same Racing Post column has suggested that the government may stop short of a ‘total’ ban on free bets, and instead bookies may instead have to offer fewer bonuses or alter their terms and conditions somewhat.

Ban on Premier League Gambling Sponsorship Curtailed?

Blue Sports Shirt MaterialThere are indications that the much-publicised ban on gambling firms providing front-of-shirt sponsorship for Premier League football clubs may not be enacted.

That seems to have been added weight by the fact that Everton have just signed a new commercial deal with, which would suggest they are not concerned about a possible blacklisting for betting operators.

Instead, it has been reported that ministers and club officials have come up with a compromise, which could see a mandatory levy put in place that would see Premier League sides funding treatment and research into problem gambling.

Interestingly, the share price of many betting firms has risen today in what is thought to be good news for the industry. It has been implied that the White Paper will be published on or around Thursday July 7.