After what seems like a lifetime, the day many UK gambling firms feared has finally arrived. The UK government has released its long-awaited white paper on gambling reform that is set to bring the Gambling Act 2005 into the modern era.
Lucy Frazer, the UK Secretary of State for Culture, outlined the changes in Parliament on Thursday morning. She affirmed that the white paper would help protect the vulnerable while ensuring that those who want to gamble responsibly can do so. The majority of the changes are due to come into effect in the summer of this year.
a shake-up for one of the world’s most mature gambling markets
Now that the white paper is live on the UK government website, VegasSlotsOnline News has broken down each section to give you all the information you need to know. From affordability checks to online slot restrictions and boosts for land-based, the white paper will cause a shake-up for one of the world’s most mature gambling markets.
From the outset, MPs have made clear that their main intention with the white paper is to make UK gambling law fit for the age of online gambling, better protecting vulnerable gamblers from high-risk digital gaming.
As part of this goal, average loss background checks will take place when a player hits a net loss of £125 ($156) per month or £500 ($622) per year. More detailed affordability checks will take place at loss thresholds of £1,000 ($1,245) within 24 hours or £2,000 ($2,490) within a 90-day period. These amounts will be cut in half for those aged under 25.
an online slot staking limit of between £2 and £15 per spin
The white paper also includes an online slot staking limit of between £2 ($2.49) and £15 ($18.67) per spin, with gamblers under the age of 25 likely subject to a more stringent limit than average. Up to this point, there has been no statutory limit for online slots but some operators, such as Flutter Entertainment, have introduced voluntary limits.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) will also consult on multiple matters, including mandating participation in a cross-operator harm prevention system and updating design rules for online gambling products. It will also aim to improve player-centric tools, such as deposit limits and cool-off periods.
Ads, sponsorship, and branding
As part of its goal to protect vulnerable players from gambling marketing, the UKGC has already started restricting VIP schemes and updated its rules on bonus offers targeting at-risk gamblers.
The white paper confirms that the body will now review the design and targeting of free bets and bonuses to ensure they don’t put gamblers at risk. Other potential changes include giving customers greater control over the marketing they see and strengthening informational messaging on ads.
reduce children’s incidental exposure to gambling logos”
The white paper also notes the English Premier League’s decision to ban front-of-shirt sponsorships from the 2026/27 season. MPs believe this will “reduce children’s incidental exposure to gambling logos while watching football.”
Finally, sports bodies will work to develop a gambling sponsorship code that will be refined by the government over the coming months.
The UKGC’s powers
The white paper affirms that a review will take place to ensure the UK gaming regulator has all of the resources it needs to continue to improve and hold the industry to account. In tandem, the body will “become a more proactive regulator,” analyzing data and using its powers of enforcement when necessary.
Eventually, the Gambling Commission will have the power to block access to illegal black market gambling sites through internet services and payment providers.
To help fund advances in gambling addiction research, education, and treatment, a statutory levy will require gambling firms to contribute a certain amount of their annual funds. This will be collected and distributed by the UKGC.
a non-statutory ombudsman to settle customer complaints
The white paper also includes plans to create a non-statutory ombudsman to settle customer complaints that are not resolved between customers and gambling firms. The ombudsman will be fully “operational and independent,” with any information it collects going to help the UKGC.
Protecting the young
In order to protect children and young adults, the white paper includes plans to make the purchase of lottery and soccer pool products illegal for anyone under the age of 18, as well as Category D cash out slot machines. MPs also noted the increased age limit for the National Lottery, which was introduced in 2020.
To crack down on age verification in pubs and smaller venues, the white paper has challenged the industry to improve its processes for these facilities in particular. The government will also strengthen licensing authority powers in regards to these premises by making provisions in the UKGC code.
Ministers also hope to improve the protection of 18 to 24 year-old gamblers by introducing earlier interventions of financial risk and lower stake limits for online slot games. Operators will also have to give special consideration to age as a factor when assessing vulnerabilities.
Finally, the land-based gaming sector is set to benefit from the white paper in a number of ways as MPs aim to rebalance regulation.
Casinos of all sizes will get to offer sports betting
Among the rules, a table ratio of 5:1 will apply for both large and small casinos, while small casinos will now get to have the same 80 slot machine maximum allowance as larger facilities. Casinos of all sizes will get to offer sports betting and other gambling activities.
Casinos that cater to high-rollers from foreign countries will be able to offer credit as long as the players have undergone stringent checks to be set by the UKGC. Meanwhile, the UKGC will also work with the government to reintroduce safe cashless gaming after consulting on player protection options.
The government will consider allowing bingo premises to offer side bets. It will also adjust the rules that restrict gambling machines in bingo and arcade venues to 50/50, allowing them more gambling options. MPs also support trials of linked gaming machines which would allow prizes to accrue across multiple machines.
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