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At the start of the week, the Daily Mail reported that VIP schemes are likely to be banned as part of the UK Government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Citing Government sources, such schemes have allegedly been described as ‘immoral’ by leading proponents of gambling reform in the belief that they encourage irresponsible gambling.
Iain Duncan Smith said ‘they are deliberately driving gamblers to worse debt,’ stating the industry’s defence of VIP schemes is ‘rubbish’.
The Betting and Gaming Council have defended VIP schemes, saying that “the BGC, working with the Gambling Commission, has already taken tough action on VIP accounts, including the introduction of a strict new code of conduct which has seen the number of players enrolled reduced by 70%.”
However, the Gambling Commission has already been attacked by campaigners for not banning VIP schemes outright while Duncan Smith poo-pooed the claim VIP schemes have become better regulated.
The Mail did approach the DCMS for comment, but they were being coy, with a spokesman only saying that “the consultation on the Gambling Act Review closed in March, and we are carefully considering responses that provided evidence and views including those on advertising practices.”
The Mail also reported that there will be an outright ban on shirt sponsorship for gambling companies, that stakes for slots will be limited to £2 per spin, that a new gambling ombudsman will be introduced, and a number of retail betting shops will be closed.
Full details of the back and forth between various parliamentarians was detailed in iGamingFuture earlier in the week too.
British Gambling Commission
Towards the tail-end of last week, the BGC stressed their commitment to safer gambling, saying they will ‘maintain momentum’ now that the football season has resumed.
Measures previously introduced will continue, including the pre-watershed whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting advertising and maintaining their Code of Conduct on football clubs’ use of social media. The aim is to reduce the exposure of children to betting advertising and products.
The Industry Code for Responsible Advertising, introduced last October, will also be upheld. This includes ‘strict advertising rules’ including a ban on betting logos appearing on replica kits for children.
The Chief Executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher, said: “The start of the new football season is an exciting time for fans across the country.
“BGC members are proud to provide financial support in a variety of ways for the beautiful game, but it’s also important that we maintain the momentum when it comes to protecting young people from gambling harm.
“Around 30 million people in Britain – half the population – enjoy a flutter, and the vast majority do so safely. According to the Government, the rate of problem gambling is 0.5 per cent and has been stable for the past 20 years.
“But one problem gambler is one too many, so we will step up our work on protecting young people and providing help for those experiencing harm.”
On Friday, it was announced that Twitch has banned gambling links from their streaming platform, with the new rule coming into force from 17 August.
The move is in reaction to a number of high-profile controversies over the summer. This has prompted the Amazon-owned service to introduce a ‘Restriction on Gambling Related Links’ amendment in their content creation policies. This has been done “to prevent harm and scams created by questionable gambling services that sponsor content on Twitch.”
Twitch continued: “We will prohibit sharing links and/or referral codes to sites that offer slots, roulette, or dice games,” saying they would “continue to monitor gambling-related content and update our approach as needed.”
Moving to Spain and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzon, has warned operators there will be even stronger laws introduced concerning both the protection of customers and operator conduct.
Garzon was appointed by the Spanish government last year to overhaul and centralise Spain’s fragmented gambling laws, as well as harmonise player protection.
Speaking to Publico.es, Garzon highlighted the Royal Decree on Advertising as the Ministry’s most salient achievement so far. The Decree effectively banned TV networks, football clubs and digital media from promoting gambling.
He said: “From next 1 September, all this type of invasive advertising will disappear. There will be no advertising in the stadiums, there will be no advertising on the shirts, there will be no celebrities promoting betting houses and games of chance, and there will be no advertisements on the radio, on television or in any type of advertising medium.”
Despite the crackdown, Garzon said that after the summer, Phase 2 of the plans will be implemented. This will entail a detailed framework on how the regulator will create ‘an optimal framework for safer gambling environments.’
Individual loss limits across online sportsbooks and casinos are expected, as is the overhaul of Spanish gambling’s RGIAJ player self-exclusion system with the introduction of a centralised exclusion database.
In the Netherlands, Holland Casino will collaborate with Eredivisie, Keuken Kampioen Divisie and ESPN to become the responsible betting partner for Dutch football over the next four years. This arrangement will begin on 1 October, when the Dutch market opens, and will feature investment in Dutch football as well as information about safe and responsible participation in online games of chance.
Erwin van Lambaart, CEO of Holland Casino said: “The investment in Dutch football is of great value to all parties. It gives Holland Casino an enormous reach to interest a wide audience in attractive games of chance with an exciting, new online dimension, where safe and responsible play is always paramount. By setting the bar high in this regard, we want to set an example in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, in our casinos and from 1 October also in our online offer. That reliability is of great importance to the consumer. The value of the investment is also great because it really supports all professional football clubs, spread across the Netherlands.”