UK gambling review faces an ‘affordability balancing act’

Last week, DCMS published its accompanying terms of reference with regards to its review of the 2005 Gambling Act. In its statement, the department underlined that all components and business relationships of gambling would be reviewed in what is widely anticipated to be a re-wiring of the UK gambling sector. 

Fulfilling one of PM Boris Johnson’s election manifesto promises, the review is likely to be widespread and bring the act into line with the current digital climate. 

Following the announcement of SBC assembled a team of industry experts for a special webinar on what the future likely holds for the industry. 

Providing a legal perspective of proceedings, Licensing expert David Clifton emphasised: “For those of us that were hoping that the issue of affordability, notwithstanding, the Gambling Commission’s customer interaction consultation, which is really about affordability

“Despite that having commenced, I think there was still a hope amongst many that this was going to be such a fundamental issue that it would be properly debated before Parliament.” 

Meanwhile, Betting & Gaming Chair Brigid Simmonds noted concerns with regards to the short consultation period given by DCMS to gather detailed evidence on the complex and multi-layered issue of affordability. 

“To be fair, the BGC and our members have been working on this for some time, it’s not as if we didn’t all know there was going to be a review announced, we knew the sort of things we were going to have to look at and we were doing a lot of work behind the scenes. “ Simmonds added:

“If I could comment on that affordability issue, we have been absolutely clear with the gambling commission this is a very short consultation response, given that this is Christmas and we actually have to respond by the 12th of January, we believe the responses should be extended by a month. 

Simmons maintained that DCMS should ensure its UKGC recommendation that the widest response would be required with regards to undertaking any assessment of gambling’s complex customer relationships 

“I also think that and the Gambling Commission appreciate that there are two sides to this, the first is 

that they are a non-departmental independent body, they are independent to the government, so having the government tell them what to do is not really how that system should work. But, I think they are also conscious that it is a big issue. 

“What I think we absolutely need here is the voice of the consumer, because it’s the voice of the consumer who is going to say ‘if asked for my bank statement or my tax return, is that going to mean that I go off to some unregulated market, that doesn’t ask me for those questions’.”

She went onto underline the importance of knowing when to intervene and doing it in the correct way in order to ensure that consumers aren’t ushered onto the black market.