News DCMS To Launch Online Casino Investigation

DCMS To Launch Online Casino Investigation

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The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is set to launch a review into proposals that would limit online casino stakes as part of the wider review of UK gambling laws.

Under the plan, which will be within the scope of the reform of the 2005 Gambling Act, ministers will set out to ‘consider’ if operators should be required to limit a player’s monthly losses as well as undertaking much more robust affordability checks.

The proposals being looked at by DCMS could mean that new gambling products could be subjected to a more rigorous testing regime that would ultimately affect whether a product is released onto the market and the limits of how much customers can bet on them.

According to reports in the UK media, the review, which formed part of the 2019 general election manifesto from the Conservative Party, will be overseen by sports minister Nigel Huddleston, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson said to be keen on tightening up the rules.

Reports suggest that another proposed key area highlighted is the regulation of both online and electronic slot machine games. Currently, gamblers can wager unlimited amounts online on these games, despite the fact that some land-based games have seen maximum stakes cut to £2.

The industry body the Betting and Gaming Council has regularly warned that the ongoing tightening of regulations could fuel illegal and offshore gambling operations, which would do little to protect customers safety. But in answer to this concern, it is believed that DCMS will consider giving the UK
Gambling Commission more resources and powers to help it tackle illegal operators.

Some reports also suggest that VIP schemes and other promotional offers will be included in the review, as the government are said to be unsatisfied with efforts made in curbing poor practice in this area, both from the industry and the regulator.

At the same time as looking into online casinos, the DCMS is also reported to be considering a ban on sports sponsorship. During the current season half of Premier League football clubs have partnerships with bookmakers, and 17 out of 24 Championship clubs use gambling operators as their main shirt sponsors. Similar proposals were implemented in Spain last month, under the national government’s Royal Decree on the Commercial Communications.

The DCMS is set to publish terms of reference for the review, which will lay out the key criteria that will guide the process, including specific proposals on betting sponsorships and online casino stake limits that may be brought in line with Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT) stake limits.

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