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Is 2023 The Year Of The UK Gambling Reform?

The UK Gambling Commission, the Advertising Standards Agency and the UK Government have been working on a gambling reform for some time now – and many feel that its release is long overdue. It is thought that discussions surrounding the whitepaper initially started in 2020 and there have been several reasons cited for the delay in its release since. A world pandemic, the ironing out of the finer details and a prime minister that only lasted 7 weeks have all contributed to the reform taking over 24 months to put together. However, it seems pretty certain that discussions are now in the final stages and so many industry insiders are hoping that 2023 is the year the UK Government whitepaper RE the UK gambling reform is finally released.

When Can We Expect to See The Whitepaper Release?

It is now over 2 years since the launch of The UK Government’s gambling review, however, numerous delays and postponements have meant no white paper has been published yet. The start of December 2022 saw the minister responsible for the review under the newly reshuffled government say he wished the white paper to be “out the door” and indicated the reforms could be released in the next few weeks

On further questioning, the minister would not confirm if this meant the white paper would be published before Christmas. The minister would not confirm this, and it later became clear when pushed by the interviewer, that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had not completed making final alterations to the white paper.

This left the gambling industry in a state of unknown, with many executives still believing the white paper would be published this year.

The current information seems to suggest that the earliest we could expect the publication of the paper is January 2023. The publication date may slide further into early February, if this is the case it will coincide with the ICE Gaming Expo which is to be held in the London Excel Centre. A release date coinciding with this event is sure to generate a hotbed of discussion, both at the Expo and within the industry in general.

The review is expected to include restrictions on online gambling, these controls are thought likely to introduce a minimum stake for casinos operating over the internet. A ban for operators to give free bets to players who have sustained losses during play. It is thought caps will be introduced to limit the maximum online stake to somewhere in the £2 to £5 bracket, further increase to this limit would be available to players who pass affordability checks. The individual game’s features are likely to be limited, and any features that increase a player’s exposure to risk would no longer be permitted. This is likely to affect quick games where the chances of a loss are higher.

The review does not stop with online gambling but ranges wide into a look at how sport in general supports the promotion of the betting industry. Currently, shirt sponsorship is one of the topics expected to receive attention. Other areas of reform are expected to affect both TV and online advertising within the industry.

What Changes is the Reform Likely to Bring?

As yet there have been no official announcements regarding the whitepaper and its contents, although there have been several rumours and plenty of insider information that supposedly tell us what we should expect when it comes into play.

One thing that most people accept is that a change in the way gambling can be advertised will come into play. Some of this may be surrounding betting websites and brands being able to sponsor major sporting events, especially those that are likely to be viewed by sports fans under the age of 18.

We know that online casinos are likely to be targeted – we may even see things like the way online casinos can be laid out or the way their games can be featured changing. The underlying theme of any rumours surrounding the gambling reform seems to be about those under the age of 18 being encouraged to gamble, so we’re likely to see some regulation changes that take this into account.

What Are Industry Thoughts on The Review?

The gambling industry is one that is used to the changing of rules and regulations so most are prepared for needing to make changes once the gambling reform is released. However, what many would hope is that this is done sooner rather than later. It is the air of uncertainty surrounding the review that is causing people the most upset. The reform is long overdue and this has led to several rumours and supposed leaks about what the paper might contain. It is this that is causing the bad feeling, rather than the need to make any changes once the paper is released. To date, the industry is still unclear as to all of the details of the upcoming gambling review, so we don’t know exactly how the reform will affect fast-withdrawal casinos and many would rather know now than have to wait any longer.

Will 2023 Be The Year We See The Gambling Reform?

Although anything could happen, and the number of delays with the reform so far has left people feeling uncertain as to whether it will actually go ahead it does seem that the start of 2023 is likely to see the release of the UK Government gambling reform. As yet there are no official dates as to when this could actually be, but with it being over 2 years in the making many feel as though it simply can’t be delayed any longer – otherwise, there is a risk that any suggestions made within the whitepaper and gambling reform documents will already be out of date. Of course, the UK gambling legislation is something that is always under review and as such, we’re likely to see a gambling review happen again sometime in the future – and that is something that the industry is always prepared for. 

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Written by Marcus Richards

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