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UK Online Gambling Could See £2 Stake as Government Prepares to Publish White Paper

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Posted on: June 29, 2022, 09:57h. 

Last updated on: June 29, 2022, 03:49h.

The changes the UK government plans on implementing in its gambling industry will be presented in its upcoming white paper. That document is due within the next few weeks, and comes with the possibility of extreme limits on stakes arriving with it.

Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster, home to the UK Parliament. The government will soon release its white paper on gambling reforms, which could include a number of restrictions. (Image: The Guardian)

There’s a chance that the government will introduce a maximum stake in online casino gambling of between £2 to £5 (US$2.43 to $6.07), according to The Times. In addition, it is reportedly considering a ban on free bets and a restriction on VIP packages for people who lose a lot of money gambling.

Furthermore, affordability checks are being looked at. Online features that increase the risk for customers will no longer be permitted by gaming companies.

The government previously planned on presenting the white paper last year, then in January. It then further pushed the date back to May, and then June. It will now be July before the changes arrive, with operators and industry players anxiously waiting to see what is coming.

Parliamentary cabinet members are now reportedly reviewing the white paper. Once it makes its rounds — as long as there is no major resistance — the government can then release it.

Give and Take

The Times reports that, while online gambling restrictions could be coming, land-based casinos are going to receive a boost. Many will be allowed to increase the number of gaming machines they offer from a maximum of 20 to 80.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently stated that online gambling is at its highest level ever in the country. One in four Britons now place online bets. As a consequence of that, it believes more restrictions are necessary to combat the potential for gambling harm.

This is in spite of the fact that the level of “problem gamblers” is lower than it was a year ago. It also goes again public sentiment.

The commission will receive new powers as well. There’s also the possibility that it wins one of its long-running battles – obligatory fees from operators. Currently, gaming operators only voluntarily support UK gambling initiatives. But this support still adds up to tens of millions of pounds each year.

Gaming industry insiders have warned against enacting an overly restrictive gambling market. However, some legislators still haven’t been able to put aside their personal differences to respond to the facts. Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling harms, recently told the Mirror that giving in would only mean that the government is “weak.”

Sponsorship Bans Still In the Air

One of the changes that the white paper will not include is a ban on sports sponsorships by gaming companies. This has been a contentious topic. However, previous rumors indicated that the government might instead opt for a voluntary agreement with Premier League clubs.

If that happens, or if the white paper doesn’t include the obligatory fees, there could be trouble ahead. Parliamentarians have already hinted that new gambling laws without those items could spell disaster.

Soccer club Everton recently signed a sponsorship deal with Stake.com. This came even as the discussion of banning agreements such as these was heating up. Since the organization announced its deal three weeks ago, over 20,000 Everton fans have signed a petition to convince the club to reverse its decision.

Analysts Overly Confident

All of the evidence points to a greatly reduced gambling industry, should the rumored restrictions arrive. However, the amount of damage they could cause depends on perspective.

Analysts with Shore Capital acknowledge that the restrictions could impact the industry, but that the outcome won’t be too bad. Of course, at the same time, it admits that the government’s estimate of a loss in annual revenue of £700 million (US$848.96 million) is realistic.

Most operators would say that this is a huge impact, not one that is not “too bad.” Land-based casinos will receive a boost if they can offer more machines, but online gambling will suffer. As a result, the next time something like COVID-19 comes around, so will the industry and the UK.

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