Online gambling

The UK Gambling Commission slammed a new report by the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) that accused the regulator of not performing adequately. The report had termed the watchdog ‘not fit for purpose.’

The GRH APPG published its report after six months of inquiry in the gambling sector and how vulnerable groups face harm because of predatory policies by operators. It has many radical solutions to problem gambling, including imposing an FOBT-style £2 betting limit on online slot games. The report also recommended a ban on credit card use of gambling and an overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act. Shares of gambling companies fell shortly after they released the report.

The UK and Ireland imposed £2 betting limit on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) known infamously as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’ earlier this year. The APPG suggests that this land-based restriction should also be brought online. It has made 11 key recommendations, calling gambling-related harm a ‘public health crisis.’ The British MPs want to see promotional offers that induce gambling like ‘VIP accounts’ to be banned. The report also criticized GambleAware charity for not functioning well.

UKGC chief Neil McArthur said that he already discussed the accusations against the regulator with the lawmakers. He said that consumers could cause harm at any stake level. Therefore, they need to use play data more effectively to impose better player protections. The regulator criticized the APPG to publish a report without including UKGC official data. It said that the regulator data would have made the report more comprehensive and added more depth to it instead of harping on issues discussed previously.

The Commission further noted that it has actively focused on reducing gambling-related harm and protecting vulnerable groups and minors. It pointed out its body of work in recent years, which focuses extensively on better player protections and security. It cited many warnings and penalties on operators that didn’t comply with the existing rules. The Commission said that it could help the APPG in understanding the measures being taken to reduce gambling harm in the UK.

Online gambling firm William Hill’s Director of Corporate Communications Ciaran O’Brien said that the report suggests “retail solutions for digital products.” He said that the recommendations would create unforeseen circumstances in an industry that already has a black market with £1.4 billion in stakes.

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