In a dramatic turn of events, the UK’s gambling industry faces a regulatory revolution as public sentiment swells in favour of stricter advertising controls. A recent Gambling with Lives-commissioned poll indicates that over half the public supports a total ban on gambling advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, while nearly two-thirds favour new online stake limits. As the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport prepares to publish a white paper outlining potential reforms, the gambling landscape seems poised for change.
The Survation poll, which surveyed 1,009 adults, found that 68% believed minors should be shielded from gambling advertising. Additionally, 64% supported affordability checks for those wishing to bet over £100 per month, while 60% viewed gambling as a threat to family life.
The Premier League recently announced that clubs would discontinue shirt sponsorships with gambling firms by the end of the 2025/26 season. However, Will Prochaska of Gambling with Lives criticises the decision, calling it a “cynical attempt to avoid regulation.” He highlights the importance of public sentiment, stressing that meaningful action on gambling advertising is expected.
Campaigners are hopeful that the upcoming white paper will propose a statutory levy on the iGaming industry to fund research and treatment for addicts, as well as maximum stakes for online slot games. Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of campaign group Clean Up Gambling, suggests a mandatory levy on gross gaming yield could generate roughly £150m per year for research, education, and treatment.
The Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has outlined measures they believe should be included in the white paper. These proposals consist of a ban on sports advertising, the establishment of a new gambling ombudsman, a £2 maximum stake on online slots, a ban on VIP schemes, and a mandatory levy.
Carolyn Harris, Labour chair of the APPG, maintains that the gambling industry must undergo reform to ensure accountability and more reasonable profits. Last year, The Observer reported that major betting firms warned the government against excessive restrictions, arguing that this could push gamblers towards the black market.
Citizens Advice has reported that gambling addiction has exacerbated the cost of living crisis for some individuals. The charity has observed a “toxic cycle between online gambling and the growing financial vulnerability” and calls for swift action to address the issue.
In response, a spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) stated that the BGC’s largest members have pledged an additional £110m of funding over four years for research, education, and treatment services. The BGC supports making contributions mandatory and would back a new scheme provided that funds are effectively and independently distributed.
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport affirmed their commitment to protecting those most at risk of gambling-related harm, particularly young and vulnerable individuals. As the gambling industry braces for a regulatory overhaul, the upcoming white paper will reveal the government’s plan to address public concerns.
As the United Kingdom’s gambling industry stands on the precipice of significant regulatory reform, a wave of public sentiment demands stricter control of advertising and promotion, and rigorous safeguards to protect vulnerable individuals and families. The impending white paper, promising to outline the future of the gambling landscape, is expected to address these concerns head-on. The hope is for the adoption of comprehensive measures, including an industry levy to fund crucial research and treatment, a cap on online stakes, and the termination of certain advertising practices. Ultimately, the call for reform is a testament to the public’s desire for an accountable and responsible gambling environment. In this context, the industry’s future stability hinges on striking a delicate balance between commercial viability and societal protection, all while managing the potential risk of an emerging gambling black market. The forthcoming white paper represents a pivotal step in this direction, with its implications reaching far beyond the gambling industry itself.