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UK gambling white paper to be released by Easter

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According to the latest reports, the United Kingdom’s long-awaited gambling white paper could be released as soon as Easter.

The government first mentioned a white paper mapping out the gambling reforms in December 2020. Since then, however, there have been numerous delays to the grievance of anti-gambling campaigners and addiction clinicians. They claim that the country’s current gambling regulations are failing addicts.

In a meeting last Wednesday, the newly appointed Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary of State, Lucy Frazer, promised the Gambling With Lives campaign group, founded by the aggrieved families of gambling harm victims, that an overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act will take effect “soon”.

Gambling With Lives has been waiting for UK gambling reforms for the past six years. Liz and Charles Ritchie, the organization’s co-founders, have held meetings with 12 ministers with ties to the gambling policy during this period.

Among the expected reforms is a restriction on the maximum stakes for online slot machines, tipped to be somewhere between £2 and £5. This could put them on par with high-street machines.

Football sponsorship is another area that the reforms may likely affect; however, the government previously revealed that it would rather not pass a law restricting soccer clubs from betting-related activities. Instead, it has asked the Premier League to acquire the consent of clubs to reject sponsorship deals with gambling companies that required they display the brand names on their shirts.

READ: EPL teams could boot gambling sponsors from shirt-fronts

There is still some concern about the LED promotions on pitch-side hoardings. Although these are typically expected to be let go if the jersey sponsorship is forfeited, there is a chance they could be exempted.

An early draft of the gambling reform suggested the use of “affordability checks” by bookmakers. This would require people that gambled and lost between £100 and £500 monthly to submit their bank statements.

Regulus Partners’ Dan Waugh claimed that such a move could prove disastrous for the gaming industry because heavy gamblers will turn to the unregulated market in hopes of avoiding the requirement. Casual gamblers, on the other hand, could entirely stop placing betting.

Due to this, less imposing financial health checks are currently being considered by the ministers. Open-source credit information could likely be used in this lighter-touch method.

The white paper could also look into the use of promotions like “free” bets or bonuses to entice retired gamblers. Last week Frazer referred to offers like this as “enticements” from gambling firms.

Waugh noted that some of the bigger names in the UK sports betting industry, such as Entain and Flutter, intend to expand abroad. The US is top of their list now that more than half the states have legalized sports betting.

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