The Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group (APBGG) has commenced a review of the UK’s Gambling Act 2005 to establish what changes may be needed to ensure the laws are relevant to the technical and social developments since its conception.
The APBGG will take written evidence from all interested stakeholders and hold a series of meetings with experts from all sections of the industry and supporting organisations. This aims to prepare the ground for the government’s upcoming review of the legislation.
The review will take place online due to current lockdown measures in the UK as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, with stakeholders invited to take part in a survey and submit written submissions on the APBGG website.
An initial four webinar sessions will see a panel of APBGG members interrogate key witnesses on four topics: A public health approach to gambling; gambling’s relationship with football; gambling marketing, and whether the 2005 Act is fit for purpose.
The APBGG said it is in the process of agreeing dates and speakers and that it could host further webinars should the initial four sessions prove successful.
Findings from the review will be published in a report that will be sent to the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as part of its own planned review of the Act.
In its 2019 General Election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to launch a review of the Act. However, despite being voted into power in December last year, it is yet to make any progress with these plans.
The APBGG said it is aiming to complete its review and report by this winter.
“As co-chairman of the All Party Betting and Gaming Group, I believe it is essential that any review of the 2005 Gambling Act is based on evidence,” APBGG co-chair Philip Davies MP said.
“The purpose of these sessions to help inform the government in their work in this area. We want to listen to the legitimate concerns people have of the gambling industry as well as ensure the industry gets a fair hearing as well.
“I am determined that we listen to a wide range of views and make evidence based recommendations which will ensure we enhance our global reputation as having the best regulated gambling industry in the world.”
The announcement comes after the DCMS yesterday (21 April) wrote to leading online gambling operators demanding regular updates on players’ behaviour patterns during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bet365, GVC Holdings, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group-owned Sky Betting & Gaming, as well as industry trade body the Betting and Gaming Council, have been asked to provide internal data around online gambling habits of players under lockdown.
Operators had already committed to making safer gambling messaging more prominent in adverts, and signposting links to services such as GamCare and its National Gambling Helpline, as well as to monitor customer behaviour and react quickly to increases in time and spending.
However, another APPG, the Gambling Related Harm Group, criticised the measures, dismissing them as being insufficient to actually provide a sensible level of player protection, or as rehashing existing commitments.