Young gamblers playing slot machines can be expected to face limits on the amount they can bet under new laws which the government is reportedly lining up.
According to The Sun newspaper, ministers will consult on whether to cap bets on online slot games to between £2 and £15 for gamblers who are 25 and younger. The leaks, which have been obtained by several UK newspapers, also indicate that gambling firms will be taxed in order to fund addiction treatment.
Stricter affordability checks are also likely to be introduced, although it is still to be determined at what level these would kick in.
The narrative surrounding gambling in the United Kingdom is extremely binary. For most, it is black or white; gambling is either supported or it is vehemently rejected and seen as a scourge. Gambling naysayers will point to how destructive it can be whilst on the opposite end of the scale, gambling enthusiasts will claim that the naysayers will never be happy until gambling is completely banned, despite the ever-tightening regulations.
The UK government has been planning changes to the UK Gambling Act since the end of 2020. Several delays later and we are still awaiting a final decision on what will happen. This is not the first time that news agencies have reported expected changes, and until the government comes out and confirms such law changes, it probably won’t be the last.
According to an article written by gambling writer Jon Bryan for SpikedOnline, the anti-gambling lobby did its utmost to suggest that the recent World Cup in Qatar would lead to dozens of deaths from football related gambling addictions. Bryan also claimed that the anti-gambling lobby continues to make ‘absurd and draconian demands’, even after they claim small wins for their agenda. He suggests that this group will not stop until gambling advertisements and gambling itself is outlawed in the UK.
Furthermore, figures released by the UK Gambling Commission at the end of 2022 suggest that the levels of problem gamblers remain stable at 0.3% whilst the level of gambling among the adult population is actually at lower pre-pandemic levels.
With that being said, there are of course strong arguments to suggest that UK gambling firms are doing nowhere near enough to protect their customers from gambling harm. In 2023, William Hill received a record £19.2 million fine from the UK gambling regulator for ‘widespread failures’ which included social responsibility failures. One such failure was allowing a new customer to spend £23,000 within 20 minutes without placing any checks on said customer. A second failure was allowing another customer to spend £18,000 over 24 hours, again without any checks as to whether the customer could afford to spend that amount of money and whether they were in the right frame of mind when making the deposits.
Whilst gambling regulation changes have still not been 100% confirmed, what can be confirmed is that Premier League clubs have banned gambling sponsorships from the front of shirts from 2026/27 onwards.
Over 50% of Premier League clubs have shirt sponsors of gambling companies. Brighton football club owner Tony Bloom endorsed the ban but also stated that gambling sponsors ‘pay best’. As it stands, gambling sponsorship will continue around football grounds and there are no expectations that gambling sponsorships will also be banned from appearing on other places on football shirts, sleeves for example.
Additionally, there is zero possibility that in 2023 you can watch a Premier League football game on TV or attend a Premier League football match and not see at least one gambling sponsor. This would be the case even if gambling sponsors didn’t appear on football shirts either.
Given that the main emphasis of the leaks will surround online slot machines, we spoke to Jean Prince who is the Editor in Chief of the UK oriented slots affiliate website, SlotsHawk.com. Prince claims that UK gambling regulations get tighter year after year and expects that they will eventually completely strangle the market, he says:
“Other than the countries which have outright banned online gambling, the UK gambling market is the strictest and most tightly regulated in the whole world.
“But you would not necessarily believe that by the constant flow of criticism levelled both at the UKGC and all gambling companies and gambling advocates.
“Don’t get me wrong, problems still exist, and it is abhorrent how a company as large and successful as William Hill can allow a new customer to spend over £20,000 within 20 minutes.
“However, outright bans will not protect customers, it will only lead to them playing at unregulated sites which will leave the customer in even more danger.”
Jean Prince goes on to tell us how he thinks gamblers can be given greater protection.
“First of all, my opinion is that the likes of William Hill are giving all companies associated with gambling a bad name. It is imperative that William Hill and others are forced to employ a third party team whose sole responsibility is to ensure that their players are playing in a safe environment, one in which they cannot go out and lose more than they can afford to.
“In addition, the government should work with the slot game development companies in order to create games which are safer and more enjoyable for gamblers.
“Thousands of new slot games online are released every year and I think that if the naysayers talk and work directly with these developers, they can bring about a milieu which both ensures a safer environment for gamblers as well as an increase in the amount of fun had by said gamblers.”
The Sun has stated that the shake-up is likely to be revealed ‘within weeks’. But our guess is as good as yours. Several government plans regarding gambling have been announced and then scrapped in recent years, and there is no solid proof that the new reported regulations will be carved into stone either.
With that being said, everyone does expect changes to occur at some point, it is only to be revealed what these changes will be and when they will happen. Don’t hold your breath.