New UK Gambling Laws Finally Revealed, Industry Experts Are Disappointed

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The beleaguered effort to update UK gambling laws inched further to a conclusion this week after the British government published its proposed reforms.

New UK gambling laws have finally been announced after a three-year debate. (Image: Pixabay)

CardsChat has been keeping tabs on the situation since 2020 when then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden, called for the UK Gambling Act to be updated. The desire to make UK gambling laws “fit for the digital age” saw the government launch an initial consultation.

The consultation pooled comments from government officials, lobbyists, industry insiders, and members of the public. Those comments have been the subject of debate behind closed doors for three years. On Thursday, we finally got an idea of how those discussions went and, in turn, what UK gambling laws will look like moving forward.

Roadmap for UK gambling laws finally revealed

Although there are still some steps to go before the laws come into effect, the roadmap has been published. Reactions to the new UK gambling laws are mixed, not least because it’s taken so long to get to where we are now.

The big focus for government ministers since the process of updating UK online gambling laws started in 2020 is responsible gaming. Affordability checks have been the most talked about proposal and, based on the whitepaper, we know they’ll be backed by other verification requirements.

Notable highlights from the UK’s gambling reforms are:

  • A statutory levy that will fund research and treatments for gambling addiction.
  • Betting limits for online slots will be reduced to between £2 and £15 per spin.
  • Measures will be introduced to enforce greater protections for 18–24-year-olds who show signs of being at more risk of developing a gambling problem.
  • Frictionless player protection checks.
  • Extra powers for the UK Gambling Commission that will allow it to tackle unlicensed operators.
  • Rules to prevent bonus offers causing harm to vulnerable people.
  • Closing loopholes to stop under-18s gambling online or elsewhere.
  • A new industry ombudsman to deal with disputes.
  • A review of the current horserace betting levy to ensure the sport continues to grow.

There is a clear focus on restricting the amounts people can wager online, not only through stricter affordability checks but reducing betting limits. While there is certainly merit in taking steps to reduce the risk of problem gambling, some industry experts feel that the new rules miss their mark.

Mixed reactions to UK gambling reforms

Veteran poker pro and bookmaker Joe Beevers gave the rules a “grade F” and said those responsible for writing them don’t “understand” the UK gambling industry.

Nick Goff also said that “so much has been missed” but he’s not surprised the gambling reforms are “disappointing.”

Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of multiple high-profile online poker and gambling sites, including PokerStars, issued a statement. As per the press release, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said the new rules are a “significant positive” for the UK gambling sector.

Debates over the new UK gambling laws will rage on for many months. However, after more than three years of uncertainty, the industry’s direction is now set. Overall, UK online poker sites won’t have to make many, if any, adjustments to the way they operate. However, those who also enjoy online casino games will see some notable changes in the coming months.

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