In recent months, intense lobbying has been taking place at Westminster as final touches are being made to new gambling legislation, which is set to protect young gamblers. This has raised questions about the gifts and hospitality MPs receive on behalf of betting firms and industry bodies, with some MPs describing the relationship as too cosy. Betting companies have spent tens of thousands of pounds inviting MPs from various parties to events in recent years.
Information coming from a BBC article that examines the upcoming legislation states that young people and their digital habits might be the target of new laws. The culture department stated that it is working to finalise the details of the white paper to ensure gambling laws are “fit for the digital age.”
The White Paper and Proposed Regulations
The so-called White Paper, the most significant overhaul of the gambling industry in over two decades, was first announced in late 2020 but has been repeatedly delayed. The new laws are expected to introduce new restrictions in England, Scotland, and Wales, with gambling laws in Northern Ireland remaining separate. The Premier League is also likely to agree to a deal banning sponsorship on the front of team shirts.
According to The Sun newspaper, ministers are considering capping bets on online slot games between £2 and £15, with a £2 limit for under-25s. Gambling firms will also be taxed to fund addiction treatment, as reported by leaks seen by the newspaper.
Industry Response and Support for Tighter Regulation
The Betting and Gaming Council, representing gambling companies, has expressed concerns about a 1% blanket tax on all gambling companies. A BGC spokesperson said they have been working with the government on online slot games and that future restrictions should be “proportionate” and “carefully targeted.”
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would support tighter regulation, as the industry has changed significantly since its liberalisation under the previous Labour government. However, he added that he would have to study the new measures in detail when published.
MPs’ Expectations and Financial Impact
MPs who have campaigned for tougher restrictions on gambling told the BBC they expected the new tax on firms and stake limits to be introduced, along with tougher affordability checks to ensure customers do not gamble beyond their means. However, ministers are not expected to implement a total ban on gambling advertising.
The gambling industry made nearly £10bn before tax in 2021/22, with £6.4bn from remote betting and £3.5bn from non-remote betting. The industry paid £3.2bn in tax in the 2021/22 financial year, and it is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 460,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. Support for addiction issues is available via the BBC Action Line.