The ‘Call for Evidence’ publication contains an introduction and 6 key areas which the government wishes to review. These areas are not particularly surprising given the current climate and recent changes made to the industry.
The areas are as follows ; Online protections – players and products, Advertising, sponsorship and branding, Gambling Commission’s powers and resources, Consumer Redress, Age limits and verification and Land based gambling.
The introduction runs through some figures for the Industry as a whole, it acknowledges that the National Lottery plays a big part and that the industry contributes to the economy (as well as 100,000 jobs). It also refers to the level of problem gamblers being approximately 0.5% of the adult population and how this has remained broadly steady around or below 1% for the past 20 years.
It is recognised that this review is required due to a shift in customer behaviour. In 2014 the act was amended to bring offshore operators into its scope and there is much evidence demonstrating how much online gambling in Great Britain has grown. However it also recognises that “This steady industry growth and shift to online have seen neither a marked increase in overall gambling participation, which has remained broadly stable between 45 and 48% of adults for the past five years, nor an increase in population problem gambling rates”
There is a general run down of what they have done so far to combat emerging problems, for example increasing the national lottery age to 18, cutting maximum stakes, increasing donations from operators, advertising bans).
The main aims set out are to create a safe environment with up to date regulations and a powerful regulator. The main objectives being to:
- Examine whether changes are needed to the system of gambling regulation in Great Britain to reflect changes to the gambling landscape since 2005, particularly due to technological advances
- Ensure there is an appropriate balance between consumer freedoms and choice on the one hand, and prevention of harm to vulnerable groups and wider communities on the other
- Make sure customers are suitably protected whenever and wherever they are gambling, and that there is an equitable approach to the regulation of the online and the land based industries
After the initial 16 week call for evidence, the government will assess the evidence presented, alongside other data, with the aim of setting out conclusions and any proposals for reform in a white paper next year.
The call for evidence:
- Online protections – players and products
- They are exploring a more interventionist method of monitoring customer player, including sharing data with other operators to spot issues. Discussion surrounding how this is easier online and should be utilised
- More discussion surrounding the types of online gambling, “online gambling on slots, casinos or bingo games is associated with a higher rate (9.2%) than online betting with a bookmaker (2.5%)”
- White labels are also coming into the firing line- “concerns have been raised that the companies who provide the brands may be seeking to use white label arrangements as they would be unable to meet the GB regulatory standards required to obtain a licence themselves, and that this therefore poses risks to consumers”
- The attention is also back on loot boxes and whether they should be classed as gambling.
- The questions:
Q1: What evidence is there on the effectiveness of the existing online protections in preventing gambling harm?
Q2: What evidence is there for or against the imposition of greater controls on online product design? This includes (but is not limited to) stake, speed, and prize limits or pre-release testing.
Q3: What evidence is there for or against the imposition of greater controls on online gambling accounts including but not limited to deposit, loss, and spend limits?
Q4: What is the evidence on whether any such limits should be on a universal basis or targeted at individuals based on affordability or other considerations?
Q5: Is there evidence on how the consumer data collected by operators could be better deployed and used to support the government’s objectives?
Q6: How are online gambling losses split across the player cohort? For instance what percentage of GGY do the top and bottom 10% of spenders account for, and how does this vary by product?
Q7: What evidence is there from behavioural science or other fields that the protections which operators must already offer, such as player-set spend limits, could be made more effective in preventing harm?
Q8: Is there evidence that so called ‘white label’ arrangements pose a particular risk to consumers in Great Britain?
Q9: What evidence, if any, is there to suggest that new and emerging technologies, delivery and payment methods such as blockchain and crypto currencies could pose a particular risk to gambling consumers?
Q10: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider?
- Advertising, sponsorship and branding
- The ASA becoming more concerned with online advertising, including advertising on social media
- CAP is consulting on the content restrictions in the codes to ensure they reflect the latest evidence and provide appropriate protections for under 18s and vulnerable adults
- The sponsorship of sports teams, particularly football and horse racing, is coming under scrutiny
- The Questions:
Q11: What are the benefits or harms caused by allowing licensed gambling operators to advertise?
Q12: What, if any, is the evidence on the effectiveness of mandatory safer gambling messages in adverts in preventing harm?
Q13: What evidence is there on the harms or benefits of licensed operators being able to make promotional offers, such as free spins, bonuses and hospitality, either within or separately to VIP schemes?
Q14: What is the positive or negative impact of gambling sponsorship arrangements across sports, esports and other areas?
Q15: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider, including in relation to particularly vulnerable groups?
- The Gambling Commission’s powers and resources
- Intentions to ensure the GC can respond effectively to new and evolving problems in the industry- including by ensuring it is adequately resourced
- The Questions
Q16: What, if any, evidence is there to suggest that there is currently a significant black market for gambling in Great Britain, or that there is a risk of one emerging?
Q17: What evidence, if any, is there on the ease with which consumers can access black market gambling websites in Great Britain?
Q18: How easy is it for consumers to tell that they are using an unlicensed illegal operator?
Q19: Is there evidence on whether the Gambling Commission has sufficient investigation, enforcement and sanctioning powers to effect change in operator behaviour and raise standards?
Q20: If existing powers are considered to be sufficient, is there scope for them to be used differently or more effectively?
Q21: What evidence is there on the potential benefits of changing the fee system to give the Gambling Commission more flexibility to adjust its fees, or potentially create financial incentives to compliance for operators?
Q22: What are the barriers to high quality research to inform regulation or policy making, and how can these be overcome? What evidence is there that a different model to the current system might improve outcomes?
Q23: Is there evidence from other jurisdictions or regulators on the most effective system for recouping the regulatory and societal costs of gambling from operators, for instance through taxes, licence fees or statutory levies?
Q24: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider?
- Consumer redress
- Currently operators are punished by the GC, concerns are that individual customers do not get compensation (other than ADR for contractual failings)
- Concerns this does not include SR problems and that customers would have to go through the courts for this
- The questions
Q25: Is there evidence of a need to change redress arrangements in the gambling sector?
Q26: If so, are there redress arrangements in other sectors or internationally which could provide a suitable model for the gambling sector?
Q27: Individual redress is often equated with financial compensation for gambling losses. However, there may be risks associated with providing financial lump sums to problem and recovering gamblers, or risks of creating a sense that gambling can be ‘risk free’. Are there other such considerations the government should weigh in considering possible changes to redress arrangements?
Q28: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider?
- Age limits and verification
- Research shows that while the number of underage gamblers is down, the number of underage problem gamblers has remained stable
- Intentions to review the minimum age for society lotteries as well as under 18s using gaming machines (such as slot machines)
- More consideration is also to be given to the protection of those aged 18-24
- The questions:
Q29: What evidence is there on the effectiveness of current measures to prevent illegal underage gambling in land based venues and online?
Q30: Is there evidence of best practice, for instance from other jurisdictions, in how to prevent illegal underage gambling?
Q31: What, if any, evidence is there on the number of 16 and 17 year olds participating in society lotteries?
Q32: What, if any, evidence is there to show an association between legal youth engagement in society lotteries and problem gambling (as children or adults)?
Q33: Is there comparative evidence to support society lotteries and the National Lottery having different minimum ages to play?
Q34: What are the advantages and disadvantages of category D slot machine style gaming machines being legally accessible to children?
Q35: Is there evidence on how the characteristics of category D slot machine style gaming machines (for instance whether they pay out in cash or tickets) factor into their association with harm in childhood or later life?
Q36: What, if any, is the evidence that extra protections are needed for the youngest adults (for instance those aged between 18 and 25)?
Q37: What evidence is there on the type of protections which might be most effective for this age group?
Q38: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider?
- Land based gambling
- Recognition that the land based operators have been hit badly by Covid-19
- Concerns surrounding the relevance of the old legislation for land based, particularly in relation to the cashless economy and casinos
- A review of both types of casino will be undertaken now there are several in operation
- Questions as to whether local authorities have the power they need to manage the premises
- The question:
Q39: What, if any, changes in the rules on land based gambling would support the government’s objectives as set out in the document? Please provide evidence to support this position, for instance how changes have worked in other countries.
Q40: What evidence is there on potential benefits or harms of permitting cashless payment for land based gambling?
Q41: Is there evidence that changes to machine allocations and/ or machine to table ratios in casinos to allow them to have more machines would support the government’s objectives?
Q42: What is the evidence that the new types of casino created by the 2005 Act meet (or could meet) their objectives for the sector; supporting economic regeneration, tourism and growth while reducing risks of harm?
Q43: Is there evidence on whether licensing and local authorities have enough powers to fulfil their responsibilities in respect of premises licenses?
Q44: Is there evidence that we should moderately increase the threshold at which local authorities need to individually authorise the number of category D and C gaming machines in alcohol licensed premises?
Q45: Is there any additional evidence in this area the government should consider?
If you have any queries on the above please contact Andy Woods (email@example.com) or Amanda Usher ( Amanda@woodswhur.co.uk)
How to respond to the Call for Evidence:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a document (word or pdf). This Call for Evidence will close at midnight on Wednesday 31st March 2021.
Everyone is welcome to respond, including international operators.
Your response must include Whether you are responding on behalf of an organisation or in a personal capacity; What questions/ topics you are responding to; Whether you want your response to remain confidential for commercial or other reasons, and whether you are willing to be contacted (if so please provide contact details).