UK to unveil online gambling curbs

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UK to unveil online gambling curbs

Boris Johnson is poised to announce online gambling curbs in an effort to stem the devastating impact of addiction on people's lives.

Ministers will publish a review of the 17-year-old gambling legislation due to concerns that it has become outdated because of the explosion in popularity of online betting.

The ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who suffer heavy losses and non-intrusive affordability checks will be implemented as well as a maximum stake of between 2 and 5 for online casinos.

Some companies will have to remove features from online games that increase the level of risk for customers, such as quick games in which customers can lose money faster.

The Gambling Commission, which regulates the industry, will get new powers and additional funding from the increase in fees paid by the industry.

A new ombudsman will be set up to protect people's rights if gambling companies fail to be socially responsible.

The government will relax regulations for bricks-and- mortar casinos, allowing them to install a maximum of 80 gaming machines rather than the present 20 when imposing tougher restrictions online. Casinos will be able to extend credit to wealthy foreigners. This is part of an attempt to level the playing field with online casinos.

After a backlash from the industry, Ministers have dropped plans to ban gambling companies from sponsoring Premier League football shirts.

Nearly half of the clubs in the last season's competition, including West Ham and Newcastle, were sponsored by gambling companies, which has led to criticism from MPs and campaigners. The government is hoping to reach a voluntary agreement with the clubs while keeping the option of legislation in reserve.

Plans for a mandatory levy on the gambling industry to fund research and treatment of addiction have been rejected, based on the polluter pays principle.

Online stakes are not limited at present. The limits on addictive gambling machines called fixed-odds betting terminals will be introduced by the government in the near future, and there will be minimum stakes to create parity.

If there is a risk that they are making unsustainable losses, abetting company will have to carry out financial checks on people. They will not be allowed to target customers who lose money with free bets or bonuses.

The government estimates that online gambling revenues could fall by more than 700 million dollars as a result of the restrictions.

A study done by Public Health England last September found that 409 suicides were linked to gambling in England every year. A report by the Gambling Commission and the Gamble Aware charity in 2019 found that 5 per cent of problem gamblers had attempted suicide in the previous year.

In March a coroner said that a 24 year-old teacher with a gambling addiction who killed himself was failing by woefully inadequate warnings and treatments. Jack Ritchie's disorder spiraled out of control and his family said he was the victim of predatory gambling companies.

Campaigners are concerned about the pervasiveness of advertising on television and in the sporting world.

The UK is one of the world's biggest gambling markets, with profits of 14.2 billion in 2020. PHE estimated that problem gambling had an annual economic burden of 1.27 billion.