UK Gambling Act Reform Just Weeks Away, Stricter Betting Controls Expected

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The British government’s seemingly eternal effort to overhaul the Gambling Act could reach a conclusion in a matter of weeks.

boris johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a major overhaul of the UK’s Gambling Act in a matter of weeks. (Image: Wikipedia/Chatham House)

The move to make UK gambling laws “fit for the digital age” started in 2020 with an initial review of the industry. Now, almost two years later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a series of potentially significant reforms.

The Times published news of the impending announcement this week. Citing leaked information from unnamed sources in government, the article highlights the changes UK gamblers and operators can expect when the new regulations are announced.

Gambling Act overhaul to focus primarily on casino games, not poker

The early indications are that poker will, by and large, escape any major restrictions. That means the main changes to UK gambling laws will focus on casino gaming and sports betting. Per The Times, online casinos will have to impose limits on the amount customers can wager.

At present, there aren’t any betting limits for online casino games. However, under the new laws, a maximum stake of between £2 and £5 is likely. This change would bring online casino games in line with fixed-odds betting terminals, which have been limited to a maximum stake of £2 since 2019.

New “non-intrusive” affordability checks for customers who lose large sums of money are also expected. This change, above all others, has been the most contentious over the two-year review period.

The UK Gambling Commission has fined numerous operators over the past five years for failing to track and control the spending of high-risk customers. However, striking the balance between responsible gambling, a customer’s right to privacy, and free will hasn’t been easy.

It’s not yet known what the affordability checks will be but, based on the thrust of public discussions so far, it will require high-volume customers to provide more proof of income than before. This is one of the rules that could also have an impact on UK online poker sites.

UK online gambling landscape will change

Even though casino gaming is the main focus for those involved in updating the Gambling Act, no bets are off. Therefore, if a customer is deemed high-risk or considered to be wagering a lot of money at an online poker site, enhanced affordability checks might be required.

The final update of note is a ban on VIP packages and free bets for customers who incur large or sustained losses. This is another change that could impact online poker sites that offer VIP rewards, such as rakeback and reload bonuses.

We’ll have to wait for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to formally announce the new Gambling Act to know exactly how the regulations will pan out. However, what’s clear is that the reforms will introduce tighter controls on everyone, including online poker players.

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