Multiple PM Turnovers have Hurt U.K. Gaming Industry

With three prime ministers this year, including the latest, Rishi Sunak (l.), and eight ministers overseeing gambling regulations since the government began the effort, the industry is understandably uncertain when they will finally get the long-awaited white paper. Some experts expect to see it at the beginning of 2023.

Multiple PM Turnovers have Hurt U.K. Gaming Industry

Numerous turnovers at the top of the U.K. government, reflected by ministerial changes this year, have created a sense of regulatory uncertainty in the country’s gaming industry. The sector has been waiting for several years for a white paper to be issued for regulatory reforms to the Gambling Act of 2005.

First came Covid, followed by the rapid departures of former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss last summer; now, the promotion to the top of Rishi Sunak has stopped all that in its tracks. This is combined with the fact that there have been eight ministers of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport since 2018. The latest is Paul Scully.

Yogonet reports that whereas there was some talk of the white paper being published before the end of the year, now the industry is not expecting the paper to drop until sometime in 2023.

In a broader sense, many of the expected reforms are known. They include affordability, “smart stake” limits, possible bans of online VIP schemes and reining in online bonuses that are based on customer losses and spending habits.

Under “affordability,” limits of £125 net loss within one month or £500 within a year are anticipated. If a customer loses £1,000 within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days, a review of the customer’s financial situation would be triggered.

Smart Stake limits would be introduced to online slots, setting lower and higher limits per spin.

One reform called for by many consumers is wagering requirements, i.e. hard-to-meet terms and conditions imposed by operators. Often they are attached to bonuses, and require players to bet a set number of times before they can withdraw their winnings. This encourages excessive play, the Gambling Commission asserts.

Industry impressions of the new gaming minister, Paul Scully are favorable, Lee Fenton, CEO of Bally Corporation commented during the quarterly results meeting.

“They have a big in tray at DCMS, but I think the first impression is a positive, pro-business guy, and nothing to concern us. Expectations in terms of where it sits in the pecking order is difficult to call,” he said. “The DCMS has two big things on its ticket at the moment. We expect them to push on (with the gambling review), but we don’t necessarily expect it to be top of the priority list.”