Oliver Dowden to Make UK Gambling Laws Work in the Digital Age

3 min read

The British betting and gaming industry is facing sweeping changes as the government moves to ensure its laws are “fit for the digital age.”

Oliver Dowden
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden has launched a review of UK gambling laws. (Image: Reuters/John Sibley)

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden has called for a review of UK’s 2005 Gambling Act.

The call for evidence will collate feedback from operators and industry insiders on a range of issues, including online betting limits and age restrictions.

UK Gambling Laws Need to Go Digital  

In conjunction with the UK Gambling Commission, the British government has been one of the world’s most proactive regulators of betting and gaming.

From the reduction of betting limits on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to banning gambling adverts before sporting events, there’s been a consistent effort to raise standards.

Of course, not all changes have been welcomed by operators. On the whole, however, the tightening of regulations has helped the UK become one of the most respected in the business.

“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age,” Dowden said in a press release. “From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.”

The latest call for evidence is an effort to make the Gambling Act fit the modern age, according to Dowden. The government is now seeking input from industry experts, with a particular focus on the following areas:

  • Whether or not the minimum age for buying a National Lottery ticket should be raised from 16 to 18.
  • Online betting limits, gambling advertising and age limits are to be considered. Specifically, should online betting limits be lowered? Should marketing content be restricted? Should the legal betting age be changed?
  • Is the UKGC sufficiently equipped to carry out its duties as a regulator?
  • Should gambling companies be banned from sponsoring sports teams and events.

The call for evidence will run for 16 weeks, closing on March 31, 2021. At that time, the government will review the feedback and consider what policies need to change.

Changes are Needed, All Avenues Must be Explored

Although somewhat sudden, news of the review was expected. The CEO of Flutter Entertainment for the UK & Ireland, Conor Grant, believes changes are necessary. Speaking to Racing TV, Grant said that promoting safer gambling, particularly among younger people, is critical in the digital age (see video below).

He also pointed to a need for greater transparency and spending controls across the industry. For him, it’s about finding the right balance between societal controls and personal freedom.

In order for the betting and gambling industry to operate successfully, changes to protect the most vulnerable are required.

As Grant stresses, this isn’t the time for cosmetic measures. Operators and government ministers can’t exclude any ideas, and all options have to be considered to ensure the changes are right for everyone.

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