UK: Limit online bets to £2 say gambling reformers ahead of crucial law review

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A group of prominent politicians, public figures, religious leaders in the UK have written calling for strict limits on online gambling in the UK through a letter published in the Telegraph. The list includes former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, 100 Members of Parliament, and 18 bishops. In all, more than 160 individuals signed the letter.

………we are calling on the Prime Minister to be bold in delivering the reforms needed to prevent harm across the country. As he leads a Government committed to levelling up, we are sure that the stark data on gambling will be a matter of great concern, with more than 55,000 children aged between 11 and 16 now gambling addicts,” the letter read.

The UK government is scheduled to release a policy white paper on the gambling reforms. The UK Gambling Act 2005 that came into force in 2007 brought in a licensing requirement for online operators based in Great Britain.

As with the rest of the economy, gambling has changed enormously in the last 15 years, with smartphones giving opportunities to gamble online almost anywhere and at any time, fast-paced innovation in product design and advertising, and new opportunities to harness technology for the protection of players,” Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage said in a gambling policy review announcement last year.

According to a survey in 2019, 47% of the UK adults surveyed had taken part in at least one form of gambling in the previous four weeks. And approximately 0.5% of the adult population are problem gamblers, defined as meeting particular thresholds of harm in a problem gambling screen. Around 21% of adults surveyed had gambled online in the previous four weeks.

The reform proposals on the table include measures to curb the scale of betting. This includes online limits where the maximum bet would be £2, tied to a spending limit of £100 a month, after which companies would have to apply strict affordability tests to the gambler to ensure they did not spend beyond their means.

Ban betting companies from sponsoring football

We need to ban gambling firms from sponsoring football and all sport,’ Carolyn Harris MP, a member in the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harm said in May 2021. A newly-formed cross party group, Peers for Gambling Reform (PGR), in May said a ban on gambling logos on football shirts and other direct sponsorship would cost the English Football League just 2.5 per cent in lost revenues – and have no impact on Premier League clubs.

Gambling companies have reportedly flooded Parliamentarians with donations and hired two Parliamentarians as advisers ahead of crucial changes to betting rules, as per report in Laurence Robertson, a conservative MP and former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming, was hired by the influential Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) back in October 2020. He is paid £24,000 a year for working ten hours a month as a “parliamentary advisor on sport and safer gambling”.