Gambling in the United Kingdom may finally be reformed this March as some experts believe that the time of the white paper has finally come. Some of the harsher measures are expected to make their way into the reforms, sparking concerns about the future of the industry.
For what has now been almost two years, British operators, industry experts and gamblers have awaited the release of the white paper. The paper is a part of the United Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to modernize its gambling laws.
Unfortunately, people do not unanimously agree on what the white paper should contain. Anti-gambling activists have demanded the introduction of certain measures, such as the ban of Premier League sponsorships and VIP offers and the introduction of a mandatory 1% levy for the research of problem gambling.
However, one of the most divisive and controversial measures so far has been the introduction of affordability checks. Affordability checks will basically introduce certain limits to gambling, preventing people from spending too much money. However, many argue that this would hurt average gamblers more than it would help problem players.
The BGC Argues That Bad Measures Can Tip the Delicate Balance
Michael Dugher, the CEO of the BGC, is one of the biggest opponents of blanket measures. He has spoken against unjustified restrictions on many occasions, noting that certain measures might negatively impact both the industry and the players. Dugher argues that unhappy gamblers might turn to the black market, which offers none of the safeguards the regulated industry does.
Dugher is also one of the biggest critics of the white paper delays.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, on the other hand, actively promoted certain measures. While he also scrutinized the delays, Smith believes that the industry’s priority should be to protect the players.
Britain has one of the lowest gambling harm rates, with the latest estimates putting the number at 0.2%. While this may seem like a very tame figure compared with problem gambling in other jurisdictions, the issue oftentimes affects poorer regions and has devastated the lives of many people.
Introducing Rules Is One Thing, Implementing Them Is Another
Regardless of what the white paper will contain, companies will be forced to adapt if they wish to continue offering their products to local customers. However, implementation of the new regulations will likely be a lengthy and costly process.
For example, introducing seamless affordability checks will demand resources and expertise to do right. In addition, affordability checks are very hard to properly implement in the United Kingdom where many laws protect players’ privacy.
Despite that, gambling companies are preparing for the worst, seeking to be ready if the controversial affordability checks do get introduced after all.
Flutter’s chairman for the UK and Ireland, Ian Proctor, believes that the white paper’s publication will not be the end of gambling in Britain but the beginning of a new phase.