The Social Market Foundation (SMF) released a report earlier this week, in which it proposed introducing a £100 monthly deposit for UK players, amongst other suggestions.
Also recommended was replacing the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) with two separate governing bodies, each focusing on a different gambling-related area.
This report is the latest of many that have been published by a variety of political groups and think-tanks, ahead of the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has responded to the SMF’s monthly deposit claim, calling it “arbitrary and random”.
How would the monthly deposit limits work?
The £100 deposit limit would be a “soft” cap, designed to protect households of a lower socioeconomic status. Players could put more than this into their accounts, but only if they prove that they can afford to do so.
Affordability checks would include individuals needing to share a variety of documents, such as tax returns, credit checks and wage slips. These would then be shared with a gambling ombudsman so that problem gamblers are unable to wager with multiple operators.
But the BGC didn’t hold favourable views in relation to this. The council believes that changes should be based on evidence, but the SMF’s deposit suggestion was not.
It said the below on the matter.
“Some 30 million people enjoy an occasional bet, whether that’s on the Lottery, bingo or sports and gaming, and the overwhelming majority of them do so perfectly safely. We already carry out robust and improved affordability checks, and regularly intervene on customers to ensure they gamble within their means.
“We disagree with the suggestion of an arbitrary and random low cap on spending and can think of no other area of the economy where the government determines how much an individual can spend.
“We must avoid measures that see safe regulated betting being driven to unregulated, offshore, illegal black market operators online who don’t have the same checks, interventions and high standards that apply to regulated BGC members.
“Measures must be proportionate, evidence-led and fully thought through so as not to jeopardise the 100,000 jobs the industry supports or the over £3 billion in tax revenues it generates for the Exchequer.”
What else has the SMF’s report recommended?
The SMF wants to see the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which currently oversees gambling regulation and related matters in the country, to be replaced by two separate bodies. One of these would focus on licensing and ensuring that compliance was achieved throughout the industry, with the other concentrated on consumer-related matters.
Another talking point was the prevalence of offshore operators without much of – if any – base in the UK. It was revealed that more than half of the remote gambling services used by players based in Great Britain are located in Gibraltar – where they don’t have to pay as much tax.
The SMF believes that operators with a UK base would be easier to regulate, while also providing the added bonus of additional jobs.
‘Clean up Gambling’ commissioned the SMF research. Director Matt Zarb-Cousin had the following to say about offshore operators and the possible damage they can cause.
“We believe gambling firms relocating offshore has resulted in hundreds of millions in tax being avoided, while the country is left to pick up the tab for all the harm online gambling is causing to society.”