According to a new report, online gamblers should be allowed to lose a maximum of £100 on a monthly basis without proof they can actually afford such losses. In addition, the report is set to also call for offshore gambling websites to face larger taxes.
The recommendations of the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank are based on the increased calls for the Government to consider making significant changes in the way the country’s gambling sector is regulated, especially with a rising number of problem gamblers reported.
Some of the proposed changes of the SMF include the implementation of a £100 monthly limit on customers’ online gambling losses. Also, the thinktank’s report recommends that online gambling is regulated much more like the retail betting sector and a maximum stake limit of between £1 to £5 on online slot machines should be imposed, as suggested by a group of Members of Parliament.
The SMF also proposed some tax breaks for firms that move onshore, as well as a cap of the amount that could be bet online. The thinktank further suggested some serious regulatory changes, including the establishment of a new ombudsman figure. The report proposed more relaxed measures for gambling companies that are in line with regulatory standards and clearer and stricter sanctions for the ones that violate those standards.
Online Gamblers Should Prove They Can Afford to Spend More than £100 Monthly, SMF Says
The Social Market Foundation reminded that online gambling has been on the rise but the stricter measures applicable to land-based gambling are not imposed on remote gambling services. This, according to the thinktank, does not make any sense, as both retail and online gambling companies are equally obliged to reduce the harm that could be inflicted on their customers.
Last year, the UK Government significantly reduced the maximum stake allowed on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), slashing it from £100 to £2. Such limits, however, only apply to the land-based FOBTs.
Undoubtedly, one of the most significant proposals among the recommendations of the SMF is the £100 “soft cap” on customers’ monthly losses. If a player wants to spend an amount larger than the one imposed as a maximum limit, they would be subjected to affordability checks carried out by an independent gambling body, an ombudsman, or in other words, they should be able to prove they can afford to spend such an amount on gambling services. According to the thinktank that is making the proposals, such a “soft cap” on online gambling spending would help reduce the number of problem gamblers who face financial difficulties or who have committed a crime to fund their habit.
The trade body for the UK gambling sector, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), reminded that its members already carry out affordability checks of their customers in certain cases. The BGC explained it disagrees with the suggestion of an arbitrary and the implementation of a low cap on online gambling spending, pointing out there are no such limits on any other area of the economy.
The Betting and Gaming Council insisted that the regulatory measures must be proportionate so that they do not endanger any of the jobs in the industry, which currently generates revenue of more than £3 billion. The newly-unveiled report, however, questions whether the gambling sector is paying a fair share, especially considering the fact that online gambling services are getting more and more popular among customers.