UK Introduces New Gambling Protections

An update of the United Kingdom’s 2005 Gambling Act aims to protect gamblers without hurting the country’s gambling market. The report partly focused on high-stakes, fixed odds betting terminals—largely located in low-income areas—setting betting limits on the machines. Critics of the rules say the reforms will not have any real effect on gamblers.

The UK Government has released an update of its 2005 Gambling Act, with controls aimed at protecting gamblers while not hurting the gaming market.

The new rules have received a mixed reaction, however, with the gambling industry supporting the moderate reforms, while others say they are too weak to make a difference.

The UK Department for Culture Media and Sport published the new set of gambling protections and controls after reviewing commercial gambling in Britain.

The rules address high-stakes, fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) located at British bookmaking shops. The terminals have stirred controversy recently as they tend to be located in low-income areas and are seen as preying on lower-income gamblers.

The report praised the gambling industry for “developing in innovative ways,” but acknowledged the need for legislation to “keep pace with these developments.”

Under the reforms, local authorities will now be able to block the granting of bookmaker licenses in their jurisdictions. Single bets on FOBTs are to be capped at £50, with players having to specifically request higher limits or set up an online account with their bookmaker.

However, critics in Britain’s Labor party, who oppose the spread of the terminals, say the €50 cap is set too high and that only 7 percent of bets on the terminals exceed that amount.

The party has supported giving local jurisdictions the right to block new gambling shops, but the country’s bookmakers say the new rules will lead to favoritism in which licenses are handed out and to which companies.

Finally, critics warn that too much regulation will simply drive gamblers to illegal online sites.

The report says offshore online gambling site operators will have to obtain licenses to conduct business in the UK, but does not say how that should be enforced.