Law & Politics
UK gambling law reform in weeks, tougher controls loom
The UK government’s seemingly never-ending effort to overhaul gambling law could come to fruition within weeks.
The move to make UK gambling laws “fit for the digital age” began in 2020 with an initial industry review. Now, nearly two years later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a series of potentially significant reforms.
The Times, published the news of the impending announcement this week. Citing information leaks from anonymous sources in government, the article highlights the changes UK players and operators can expect when the new regulations are announced.
Gambling law revised to focus primarily on casino games, not poker
Early indications are that poker will largely escape all major restrictions. This means that the main changes to UK gambling laws will focus on casino games and sports betting. According to The Times, online casinos will have to impose limits on how much customers can wager.
Currently, there are no wagering limits for online casino games. However, under the new laws, a maximum bet of between £2 and £5 is likely. The change would align online casino games with fixed odds betting terminals, which have been limited to a maximum bet of £2 since 2019.
New “non-intrusive” accessibility controls for customers who lose large sums of money are also expected. This change, above all others, was the most controversial during the two-year review period.
The UK Gambling Commission has fined scores of operators over the past five years for failing to track and monitor the spending of high-risk customers. However, finding the balance between responsible gambling, a customer’s right to privacy and free will has not been easy.
It is not yet known what the affordability checks will be but, based on the direction of public discussions so far, will require high volume customers to provide more proof of income than before. This is one of the rules that could also impact UK online poker sites.
The online gambling landscape in the UK will change
Even though casino games are front and center for those involved in the gambling law update, no bets are open. Therefore, if a customer is deemed high risk or considered to be betting a lot of money at an online poker site, enhanced affordability checks may be required.
The final update of note is a ban on VIP packages and free bets for customers who experience large or sustained losses. This is another change that could impact online poker sites that offer VIP rewards, such as rakeback and reload bonuses.
We’ll have to wait for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to officially announce the new gambling law to find out exactly how the regulations will play out. However, what is clear is that the reforms will introduce tighter controls on everyone, including online poker players.