The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) initiated the Gambling Act Review by publishing the Gambling Act 2005 Call for Evidence; investigating online restrictions, marketing and the role of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) in the review of gambling laws.
Call for Evidence
On 8 December, the DCMS launched their Call for Evidence; the result could be the most impactful reform of the UK gaming market since the Blair government.
The UKGC announced that the Call for Evidence will run until 31 March 2021. Additionally, the DCMS published it’s ‘terms of reference’ highlighting the scope of their investigation:
“We welcome evidence from all parties with an interest in the way that gambling is regulated in Great Britain. We also welcome international evidence”.
Moreover, their call for evidence includes but is not limited to: information regarding online protections of players and products, advertising, sponsorship and branding, age limits and verification, and the Gambling Commissions' powers and resources.
Is the Gambling Act 2005 still relevant?
One of the key areas of interest has been whether the Gambling Act 2005 is relevant in an age where the market has evolved technologically at rapid speed.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for DCMS responding to this notion stated:
Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age. From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed”
Protecting young people from gambling harm
Another important area of concern is in relation to young people and the extent to which they are protected under the current Act. The government announced that the national lottery minimum age would be raised from 16 to 18 years of age in bid to protect young people from gambling harm.
This builds upon our clear track record of introducing tough measures to protect people from the risk of gambling harm – banning the use of credit cards, launching tighter age verification checks and cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals.
Furthermore, this age restriction will be extended to online gambling as a reaction to the surge in the number of players as a result of COVID-19 shifting players from land-based to online gambling. The DCMS stated that the change will take effect in April 2021.
Sports sponsorships to end?
Tighter restrictions could mean the end sports sponsorships according to SportsPro.
The DCMS wrote in the terms of reference: “What is the positive or negative impact of gambling sponsorship arrangements across sports, esports and other areas?”.
Undeniably, the betting sector contributes significantly to the financials of professional football, with over £40 million in payments. Sports sponsorship bans could be detrimental to the financial health of clubs, especially after COVID-19.
Danger on the horizon for blockchain and crypto users
The government has noted interest in uncovering the potential risk blockchain and crypto currencies could pose to gamblers stating in their terms of reference:
“What evidence, if any, is there to suggest that new and emerging technologies, delivery and payment methods such as blockchain and crypto currencies could pose a particular risk to gambling consumers?”
UKGC show their support
CEO of the UKGC, Niel McArthur commented on the news stating:
We welcome the government’s Review of the Gambling Act which will also consider our powers and resources. Our job is to make gambling safer and the Review creates an opportunity to build on the progress we have made to protect players and the public – such as strengthened age and identity verification, strict new guidance for so-called VIP schemes and banning gambling with credit cards.
McArthur adds that the Gambling Commission will support the Call for Evidence stating:
As the statutory adviser to the Secretary of State we look forward to contributing our advice to help with the government’s Review and we will continue our close working relationship with DCMS as the Review proceeds. We’ve made it clear to gambling operators that we will continue to work at pace to take action to protect consumers while the Review of the Gambling Act is underway.
Ultimately, the review of the Gambling Act 2005 will cause a major shift in the way the industry is currently operating, with changes for sports, regulation, the online industry and sponsorship deals.
The news comes after the UK had just reopened it's land-based casinos following a second national lockdown.
Article originally appeared on: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/news-action-and-statistics/News/gambling-commission-welcomes-publication-of-gambling-act-review-call-for-evidence