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To The Limit, Radical Bid To Impose £100 Cap

by Rory Niblock-Stuart

A social think-tank has mooted radical new legislation to cap online bettors to a maximum £100-a-month spend in a bid to curb “problem” gambling.

And the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has also called for sweeping tax reforms to force companies to bring their offshore operations back to mainland Britain.

The report by the SMF, a cross-party think-tank, comes before the government’s scheduled review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The structures created by the 2005 Gambling Act are “no longer fit for purpose,” claims the SMF.

Ministers, for their part, have also warned that the act is “not suitable for an era dominated by online gambling”.

The SMF report recommends new “affordability checks” to “protect” gamblers from serious financial harm.

It proposes limiting punters to a maximum £23 a week on gambling products – unless they can prove that they can afford to lose the money without hardship.

Given that the majority of gamblers spend less than this per month on their betting, most people would not be affected by the proposed new legislation.

Stake limits on online slot games should be set between £1 and £5, the report recommends. And non-slot online gambling games should also face new restrictions.

On the tax front, the report proposes complete reform of tax legislation; increasing taxes on firms based offshore in Gibraltar or the Isle of Man and reducing tax for “onshore” companies.

A spokesperson for the SMF said: “Operators could still decide to base their headquarters in locations like Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, or Alderney, but that decision would carry significant tax implications.”

Their report calls for a regulatory overhaul of gambling, as we know it.

The SMF said a new cross-government Gambling Quartet, for example, should replace the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is currently responsible for gambling policy.

The report’s lead author, Dr James Noyes, stated:

“For too long, gambling operators have talked about the need to protect their customers. But they have not worked together in order to make affordability checks a reality.

“A fixed cap that applies across operators is the only way that consumers can be protected from harmful spend. Our proposed threshold sets the bar low enough to protect everyone, including those on low income, but is high enough to reflect the vast majority of gambling activity among the general population.”

Stressing the need for reform, Noyes, added:

“Our gambling laws were determined by a legislative review that is now almost 20 years old.

“Since then, online gambling has transformed the industry’s financial and social impact beyond recognition. The forthcoming Government review should be seen as an opportunity for a radical overhaul.”

The report, titled “Gambling Review and Reform: Towards a New Regulatory Framework”, is published at:

www.smf.co.uk/publications/gambling-review-reform