The UK’s Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) has responded to the Social Market Foundation’s (SMF) recently released report and proposed framework. In its response, the BGC warned that such arbitrary caps will lead to unwanted consequences as players will be incentivized to turn to black-market offshore operators.
This response comes after the SMF’s framework proposal of capping player spending to just £100 a month or £23 a week. The cap seeks to ensure that gambling does not exceed the poverty thresholds of lower-income households in the UK, ultimately leading to less gambling-related harm. The framework also targets gambling content as it prescribes an introduction of remote gambling system controls that are based around limits on stake and speed of play wherein online slot contents can be played with established limits of £1 to £5 per stake while non-slot contents, where similar limits would make the games financially unfeasible, should incorporate limits directly to the game’s design.
With such limits proposed, the regulator expressed its stand on the matter as it disagrees with the suggestion deeming it is an arbitrary random cap on spending. It also highlighted that currently, it can see no other areas of the economy wherein the government can determine how much an individual can spend.
The regulator also stressed that the government and other regulators must avoid measures that will lead players towards unregulated, offshore, illegal black market operators who are not under the same checks and balances, interventions, and high standards that apply to regulated BGC members. The regulator also stressed the importance of well thought out and evidence-led measures. It stressed that the inability to practice these when the review takes place will ultimately jeopardise over 100,000 jobs that the industry supports or the £3bn in tax revenues it generates.
Despite the regulator’s strong stance against the proposed caps, it did fully support some of the framework’s proposals as it has seen the authors’ determination to raise current standards. The regulator also welcomes the SMF’s acknowledgement of the BGC’s members’ active participation to drive higher standards, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulator also lauded the framework, saying that it was a thoughtful study ahead of the Government’s review of the gambling act. It also welcomes the fact that the report rightly states that there is no evidence in a rise of problem gambling and that levels have been stable at around 0.7% for nearly two decades, in stark contrast to many prohibitionists who claim that problem gambling percentages are high and still increasing.
It also fully endorses the framework’s proposal of ending operators’ white label schemes and a mandatory British gambling kitemark as a sign of operators’ commitment to fairness, quality, and integrity. Also, the regulator would welcome an opportunity to lead on the development of the said kitemark.
Finally, the regulator emphasised the importance of the government’s review process in the incoming gambling act review, heavily stressing that an evidence-led approach must be used. It also stressed that the government should avoid the dangers of unintended consequences as it updates old regulations.