The UK cross-party parliamentary group, The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG), has called for limits to be imposed on certain online gaming products.
This comes after a 6 month inquiry looking at the harms that online gambling can cause.
The group highlighted that measures such as reducing stake and deposit levels can make a significant difference in limiting the harm that can come to some players, particularly those who are more vulnerable. Currently, players have the ability to spend hundreds, or even thousands of pounds on online gambling, which can result in numerous short-term and long-term problems.
The GRH APPG urge the UK Gambling Commission to make these changes, as they see no reason why the stake limit should not have a limit. This is especially the case as offline, physical slot machines have this £2 limit.
Fixed-odd betting terminals had a £2 limit imposed on them in April 2019, which has caused betting companies to seek more revenue from online sources. This, along with the rising number of people using online gaming sites means the proposed stake limit will have a large impact.
Already there have been falls in UK betting firm’s shares since this proposal was announced. This comes as many firms were struggling anyway, particularly after the limits for fixed-odd betting terminals.
Taking more action
The Group also urged for more action to take place in order to protect the different users. For example, they encourage increased affordability checks and want the use of credit cards on these online gaming sites to be banned.
They want companies to take more responsibility for their users and take greater action in protecting those are vulnerable and at risk. Some of the recommended measures include restricting the value and number of inducements and VIP benefits, as well as making the terms and conditions simpler and easier to understand.
The Gambling Act from 2005 is no longer regarded as fit for purpose in this new online and digital age. So, the Group is calling for this to be updated and reformed too.
“Urgent need for a root and branch review”
Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the GRH APPG said:
“This report highlights the urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of online gambling. Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector. It is not at all clear why the Gambling Commission is not looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator. There must be consistent and appropriate regulation of all forms of gambling. I also urge the Government to urgently review the provision of research, education and treatment in the sector. Gamble Aware are not effectively carrying out this function and it should immediately be brought into a public health setting.”
“A public health crisis”
Meanwhile, the Group’s Vice Chair Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith says:
“Gambling addiction is becoming a public health crisis. It is clear from this inquiry that the powers of the Gambling Commission need to be significantly strengthened. For too long, online gambling operators have exploited vulnerable gamblers to little or no retribution from the regulator. We cannot continue to fail vulnerable gamblers. I therefore urge the Commission to look into this issue in greater depth. It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction.”
Responding to criticism
In response to the criticism that it is no longer fit for purpose, and that it should take a more proactive approach, the Gambling Commission stated:
“We are disappointed that this report has been released before we have been given the chance to give evidence to the APPG. The report does not reflect our considerable action and progress on most of the areas of concern set out.”