Policy paper – High stakes: gambling reform for the digital age

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Command Document: CP 835

ISBN: 978-1-5286-3581-3

Unique Ref: E02769112

It was submitted to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 27 April 2023 by the Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sports, by Order of His Majesty.

The gambling landscape has changed dramatically since 2005. Few policymakers in the early 2000s could have foreseen the nature and extent of the changes that have reshaped our society, economy and industry since then. Multinational tech businesses now provide gambling services that customers can interact with from virtually anywhere, anytime, day or night. New available data and technology can both increase risks to players and facilitate innovative protections. Land-based gambling is also finding itself in a very different place in light of these changes, and some assumptions that were valid 18 years ago seem increasingly outmoded. Likewise, our understanding of gambling-related harms and gambling disorder has improved tremendously in recent years.

We initiated this Review to provide an objective and comprehensive view of the evidence. Our aim is to ensure that our gambling regulation meets the challenges and seizes the opportunities that have come with the changes made since the 2005 Gambling Act was passed. We received approximately 16,000 applications. Call for Evidenceand ministers and officials held hundreds of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders to brief them on a policy package that will make our gambling laws fit for the digital age. We are so grateful to everyone who contributed to our review, especially anyone who has personally experienced gambling-related addictions and harms and speaks out about their own struggles or the struggles of those they love.

At the heart of our review is making sure we have the right balance between consumer freedoms and choice on the one hand, and harm protection on the other. It has become clear that we need to do more to protect those at risk of addiction and the associated unmet losses. We must also pay special attention to the protection of children, including when they are young adults and may be gambling for the first time on a wide range of products. Prevention of harm is always better than cure, so we are committed to strengthening consumer protection and preventing abusive practices.

This can and should be done proportionately. Millions of people enjoy gambling every year and most of us do not suffer from any ill effects, so government intervention should be targeted to prevent addictive and harmful gambling. Adults who choose to spend their money on gambling are free to do so, and we should not hinder the development of a sustainable and properly regulated industry that pays taxes and provides employment to serve this demand. We will not allow operators to put business objectives before customer health for the exploitation of the vulnerable.

This white paper outlines a comprehensive package of new measures to achieve these goals in all aspects of gambling regulation, based on our work in recent years. Working with the Gambling Commission and others, we will make online gambling safer by overhauling game design rules to eliminate features known to increase risks, and impose new obligations on operators to prevent uncontrolled and irrecoverable spending. We will consider aggressive advertising practices, such as using bonuses in ways that increase losses. We will also develop independent messages that raise awareness of the harm risks of gambling, while helping to remove the fear of stigma that keeps people from coming forward for help. We will work with the industry to set up an ombudsman to adjudicate complaints and order corrections when things go wrong. We will modernize the rules of land-based gambling and ensure that all gambling, online or offline, is overseen by a better-funded and more proactive Gambling Commission that can take full advantage of technology and data to keep abreast of developments. Industry.

With our relatively low problem gambling rate but internationally successful gambling industry, the UK is seen as a world leader in gambling surveillance. We hope this new package and the policies we will implement with the Gambling Commission and others continue to be seen as world leaders.

To help ensure this, I encourage anyone interested in gambling regulation to continue working with us as we develop ideas, consult details and deliver real change.

Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP

Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sports

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Thursday, 27 April 2023

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