Christopher Harper

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Gambling Law Changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility

Regulatory / 21 May 2018

On 17 May, the Government published its response to the consultation on proposed changes to gaming machines and social responsibility following its review of gambling advertising; online gambling; and research into gambling-related harm.  You can find their proposals here

The response considers the formal advice from the Gambling Commission published in March 2018 informed by the Gambling Act’s third licensing objective of “protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling”.

Highlights of the proposals include:

  • The reduction of the current £100 maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2
  • Ensuring player protection

FOBTs can be sited in casinos, licensed betting offices (betting shops) and at race tracks which offer pool betting.  It is their availability in high street betting shops, particularly in socially deprived areas, which has been Government’s focus in terms of concerns about problem gambling. The Commission had advised Government that a reduction to £2 for “slots” content (traditional fruit machine games) and between £2 and £30 in respect of “non-slots” content (e.g. roulette – the most popular and problematic game on FOBTs – and cards or racing formats) would be appropriate.

We note that:

  1. The Gambling Commission will be working with the gambling industry to improve player control measures on all categories of gaming machine, including potential ending of gambling sessions when player limits are reached
  2. Stake limits on certain other kinds of gaming machine remain unchanged
  3. The use of contactless payment for machine gaming continues to be prohibited
  4. Operators need to do more to protect customers who gamble online
  5. New guidance from CAP on tone and content and proposed revision of the industry’s code on socially responsible gambling advertising
  6. The Gambling Commission proposes to strengthen voluntary arrangements for funding research into the harm from gambling
  7. Significantly, Government recognises that gambling-related harm is a public health issue and DCMS will work closely with DHSC and Public Health England on follow up to the review

The Gambling Commission has already set out its plans to strengthen player protections online in relation to age verification, improved terms and conditions, and operators’ policies for identifying risk and customer intervention.

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