The UK government has released long-awaited proposals aimed at updating online gambling regulations to keep pace with the mobile era. Key measures include a 1% levy on industry revenue, affordability checks, and stake limits for slot machines.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sports Publishes White Paper
After numerous delays and leadership changes, the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has unveiled a White Paper outlining its plans for regulating the contemporary gambling industry. Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer told the House of Commons that gambling could ruin lives and that the government was working to modernize pre-smartphone regulations with the proposed measures.
Key Proposals for Online Gambling Reforms
The government’s proposed reforms include:
- A mandatory 1% levy on industry revenues.
- Stricter affordability checks to prevent significant losses.
- Online slot machine stakes limited to between £2 and £15.
- Restrictions on “free spin” and “bonus” offers.
- Measures to slow down online casino games.
- Additional resources for the Gambling Commission.
- Establishment of a gambling ombudsman.
The plan calls for checks on individuals losing more than £125 per day to determine if they have declared bankruptcy or have county court judgments against them. Gamblers losing over £1,000 daily would face open banking checks to assess their income.
Further Consultation and Delays
While the government has published its proposals, nearly all measures will undergo further consultation. This means additional delays for the review process, which began in late 2020 with the goal of updating the 2005 Gambling Act.
Addressing the Growing Influence of iGaming
The proposed reforms come as iGaming continues to expand its presence in the gambling sector, now accounting for the majority of the £11 billion ($13.7 billion) generated from British punters annually. Culture Secretary Frazer acknowledged that many people enjoy gambling without adverse effects but emphasized the need for action due to the industry’s transformation since the pre-smartphone era and the extreme harm experienced by addicts.
Additional Measures to Protect Children and Vulnerable People
The government also plans to strengthen pub licensing laws to prevent children from playing cash prize slot machines in pubs and to legislate a ban on lotteries offering tickets to under-18s.
Reactions from Industry and Advocacy Groups
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, co-chair of a cross-party group examining gambling harms, called the White Paper’s publication a “momentous day” and urged immediate action. Major gambling companies Entain and Flutter welcomed the proposals, while the Premier League recently announced that its clubs had agreed to stop featuring gambling sponsorships on the front of soccer kits starting from the 2026-27 season.
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain’s CEO, commented:
“The UK Gambling Act Review is an important step towards having a robust regulatory framework that is fit for the digital age and creates a level playing field for all operators. We welcome the clarity that it will bring to the industry and its customers. We look forward to working with the Government and the Gambling Commission on evidenced-based consultations and implementation of the proposals outlined today.
As a global and diversified business that operates in over 40 regulated or regulating territories around the world, all of which are regulated or regulating, we are firmly in favour of regulation that preserves the market for the vast majority of customers who enjoy recreational betting and gaming, whilst also ensuring appropriate protection to all players.”
Peter Jackson, Chief Executive at Flutter, commented:
“We welcome the publication of the White Paper, which we see as a significant positive moment for the UK gambling sector, raising standards and bringing the regulatory framework into the digital age. We believe proactive change will lead to a better future for our industry and have introduced industry-leading safer gambling controls via our ‘Play Well’ strategy over the last few years, including setting mandatory deposit limits for customers under 25, reducing online slots staking limits and making material investments in our safer gambling operational capabilities.
We will constructively engage with the Government and Gambling Commission as part of the subsequent industry consultation process, with a focus on providing support to the minority at-risk of gambling harm without interfering disproportionately with the enjoyment of the vast majority. We encourage the regulator to look at what more it can do to tackle the problem of the growing number of unlicensed and unregulated gambling companies targeting at-risk gamblers across the country. It is important to get new regulation right from the start, as it will ultimately provide the certainty our industry needs to continue investing in jobs and in further growing the UK’s lead in digital innovation in our rapidly evolving market.”
The UK government’s proposed online gambling reforms aim to modernize regulations for the digital age. Key measures include a 1% levy on industry revenue, affordability checks, and stake limits for slot machines. While the proposals represent a significant step forward, additional consultation and delays are expected before any changes are implemented. The White Paper can be downloaded here.
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