LONDON: The British government will publish long-awaited proposals to crack down on problem gambling today, aiming to bring regulations up to date with the rise in gambling online and on smartphones.
British media have reported the measures will include banning under-25s from betting more than £2 (US$2.49) per spin online, as well as forcing gambling firms to better scrutinise the financial resilience of punters.
“Today I’ll be updating gambling laws for the smartphone age to better protect people from gambling related harm,” Lucy Frazer, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said on Twitter.
Frazer was quoted in the Times newspaper as saying the white paper would help “redress the power imbalance between punters and operators”.
“There are blindspots in the system that are being exploited, keeping addicts addicted and disproportionately impacting some of our communities who are least able to afford it,” she said.
The much-delayed white paper will also include plans to introduce a tax on betting firms to fund help for problem gamblers, the Sun newspaper reported.
The changes would be the biggest overhaul to the £14-billion industry since the Gambling Act in 2005. Habits have changed significantly since then, with an exponential rise in online betting in tandem with the growing use of smartphones.
Covid-19 lockdowns turbocharged that shift, with gambling companies, including the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral brands, Entain, and the Dublin-based company behind Paddy Power and Betfair, Flutter Entertainment, seeing sharp rises in profits.
The opposition Labour Party said gambling regulation had not kept pace.
“The government’s gambling policy has been beset by chaos, infighting and delay,” Labour’s culture spokesperson Lucy Powell said. “We need to update analogue gambling regulation so it is fit for the digital age.”
The Gambling Commission, which regulates the British market, estimated the overall headline problem gambling rate was 0.2% in the year to December 2022. Charities have claimed it is higher.
Earlier this month the Premier League said its clubs had collectively agreed to stop featuring gambling sponsorship on the front of football kits from the 2026-27 season.