Boris Johnson’s government has pledged a wide-ranging review into the gambling sector which includes online casinos and the casino games they are offering.
It is also expected that betting firms will be banned from sponsoring football shirts whilst online advertising for gambling firms could be restricted.
The 2005 Gambling Act is the current legislation which provides the rules governing what gambling firms can and cannot do. The government has now called the current legislation “an analogue law in a digital age.”
From a digital perspective, the UK gambling industry has evolved exponentially since the 2005 Gambling Act was introduced. The majority of gambling has moved online in the past decade due to increases in technology and a greater number of UK citizens having access to the internet. The UK has one of the largest online casino markets in the world. There is a huge demand for online casino games in the UK in 2020. The government wants to introduce a Gambling Act which is suitable for gambling in a digital age.
The government is assessing what needs to be done in the online gambling industry and will run canvassing views on the current legislation for 16 weeks. A decision is expected to be made in March 2021.
Sport Minister Nigel Huddleston has indicated that the review will “strike a careful balance” between gambling restrictions and individual freedoms.
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Any licensed UK online casino is currently required to adhere to strict rules imposed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). For any gambling company to be able to offer their services to UK customers, they must be granted a license by the UKGC.
The government has already committed to raising the age of lottery scratchcards from 16 to 18. It will be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy lottery scratchcards in the UK from October 2021. Online sales to under 18-year olds will cease in April 2021.
Last year, the maximum stake at fixed-odds betting terminals was drastically cut from £100 to £2. Whilst online slot games remain extremely popular for UK gamblers, there is an expectation that a new gambling act may restrict players from being able to bet over £100 per spin.
The Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) has called for a review on gambling advertisements in sports. It is their opinion that the current gambling act did not foresee that the number of people below the age of 18 would be able to witness gambling advertisements so easily. The GHA has also called for gambling legislation to be updated so that it is fit for a technological age.
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The chairman of Flutter, which is the parent company of SkyBet, Paddy Power and BetFair has also stated that gambling rules need to be updated for the digital age, he said:
“For millions of people every week, they enjoy a bet, it’s a leisure activity, it gives people a lot of pleasure. For some people it’s not, for a small minority. And we need to make gambling safer for those people.”
Loot boxes in video games have also come under the scrutiny of gambling watchdogs in countries throughout Europe. In September of this year, the UK government asked for the public’s opinion in regard to the impact of loot boxes in video games. Loot boxes have since been banned in Netherlands and Belgium.
It is expected that any new UK Gambling Act will include restrictions on loot boxes within video games.