In the United Kingdom and a House of Lords committee has reportedly called on the government to officially implement a string of radical changes to the nation’s gambling landscape including one that would place tougher controls on the use of complimentary bets and other such bonus inducements.
According to a report The Guardian newspaper, the Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry is headed by former BBC and ITV boss Lord Michael Grade (pictured) and also recommended the establishment of an intensive testing regime for new online games and well as a ban on any titles found to be especially addictive.
The newspaper reported that the cross-bench committee moreover suggested that the government of the United Kingdom put an end to iGaming firms’ widespread sponsorship of sporting teams such as those in the incredibly popular Premier League and institute a mandatory levy to help fund anti-addiction programs. The body furthermore purportedly recommended the establishment of strict affordability checks for customers and a reduction in the speed of online games such as roulette so that they more closely match their land-based counterparts.
The Guardian reported that the proposals were contained in a wide-ranging investigation into the current health of the country’s gambling market undertaken following the revelation that up to 750,000 people including approximately 55,000 children could have a gambling problem. The House of Lords committee purportedly additionally recommended reclassifying the ‘loot boxes’ often offered to video gamers as gambling and hiking the age to participate in the National Lottery to 18.
Lord Grade reportedly told the newspaper that the current regulatory regime operated by the Gambling Commission had gone ‘horribly wrong’ as it was based on legislation from 2005 that is no longer effective. The 77-year-old purportedly claimed that gambling addictions affect as many as two million people across the United Kingdom and that he had been ‘shocked’ by the practice of some online operators in offering ‘inducements to continue gambling’ to potentially vulnerable customers.
Reportedly read a statement from Lord Grade…
“Nobody is up for banning all gambling, we just want to reduce the harm, reduce the suicides, reduce the misery of the people in the ripple effect of problem gambling. We’re attacking part of the market that has gone very horribly wrong.”
The committee’s examination also levied criticism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in proclaiming that it had ‘seldom been proactive and sometimes has been more obstructive than reactive’ in addressing the harms caused by addictive gambling. It moreover called on the government to increase the £19 million ($24 million) annual budget for the Gambling Commission so as to help the watchdog better regulate an industry that takes more than £11 billion ($13.7 billion) from local gamblers every year.
In response and the Gambling Commission reportedly stated that it was ‘working to improve’ despite being underfunded and soon intends to publish measures designed to upgrade existing affordability checks and tackle the addictive features within online games.
For its part and the overarching Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport reportedly told The Guardian that it is ‘absolutely committed to protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm’ and intends to review the controlling Gambling Act of 2005 so as ‘to ensure it is fit for the digital age.’