The Social Market Foundation, a cross-party parliamentary think tank has released a report suggesting that online gamblers should not be able to lose over £100 a month unless they can prove that they can afford to do so. What’s more, this report also suggests that the operators of betting sites that are based offshore should face harsher taxes.
What are the changes being proposed?
The Social Market Foundation is proposing a wide range of different methods to try and prevent gambling addiction and losses following a range of high-profile stories of te hardships faced by problem gamblers. The full list will be published soon, but for now, we know that some measures they are recommending to government include:
- £100 cap on loses unless players can prove they can afford it
- Limits to online stakes
- A new ombudsman to help regulate the industry
- Incentives for betting companies to move to the UK such as tax breaks
- Kitemarking system for companies that maintain good standards
- Clear sanctions for companies that don’t maintain good standards
Online vs Offline Regulations
Land-based gambling outlets have seen a lot more regulation in recent years and this report wants this to be reflected in online gambling measures too. There was controversial legislation last year that cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2 from £100, however, for online gambling there are no such stake limits.
The proposals from this think tank recommend that online slots and gambling should be regulated in a similar way. For example, they would like to see a betting limit of £1 to £5 on online slot games. Back in June, a group of influential MPs also put forward similar proposals to regulate the industry including a £2 stake limit on online slot games, independent affordability checks, an end to VIP schemes and a ban on gambling ads.
The SMF has said that these proposals meet the average gambling spend and will help to limit the number of people who face financial difficulties because they are addicted and will also help those who, unfortunately, criminally fund their gambling habit.
What Did the Betting & Gaming Council Have to Say?
The Betting and Gaming Council has hit back at these new proposals stating that members already carry out affordability checks in certain cases. They described this new cap as being chosen at random and that it is unfair as no other sector of the economy has limits on how much people can spend on it. Furthermore, they said that any new measures had to be evidence-led as this is a sector with over 100,000 employees and contributes over £3 billion in tax revenues to the Exchequer.
Cracking Down on Off-Shore Gambling Firms
A large part of this report is looking at the industry as a whole and whether or not gambling firms based off-shore are paying their fair share. While there is a government duty on online bets to ensure they do get some tax from betting firms based in countries like Gibraltar and Malta, this report highlights that tax incentives should be created to encourage corporation tax receipts. They say this would also help to create jobs and there would be better compliance of gambling license conditions in Britain.
What is the Government Going to Do?
The government has said that they are going to review the laws surrounding online gambling and acknowledged that the Gambling Commission had been underfunded in two parliamentary reports. They are looking to get multiple government departments involved to overview the sector.