All-Party Parliamentary Group call for £2 limit on online games

Business News

The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) has called for stake and deposits limits to be introduced on online gambling products, in its interim report into the online gambling sector. 

This report follows a six-month inquiry into the harms caused by online gambling. The inquiry was launched following growing disquiet among parliamentarians, charities, academics, families and individuals, at the high levels of harm caused by online gambling, in some cases tragically leading to suicide.  

The report raises concerns about the lack of action from the Government and the Gambling Commission to effectively address the harms caused by the online gambling sector. This inaction has allowed the industry to continue to prey on vulnerable gamblers. 

The report also highlights the disparity in content controls and stake and deposit limits between online and offline games. It notes that the Government has accepted the principle that harm can be reduced by reducing staking levels and it is clear that stake and deposit limits are needed in the online world to limit harm. The cross-party group  argue that there is no justification for having slot machine style games online with staking levels above £2, in line with land based venues. 

The report further notes that the Gambling Commission is looking at other aspects of regulation but has made no mention of what is clearly one of the key issues to address – stake and prizes online. As such, the Parliamentarians have raised concerns that that the Gambling Commission is not fit for purpose.

The group calls on online gambling operators to sign its ‘Charter for Regulatory Reform’, to signal their intention and support for the policy proposals and recommendations.

The GRH APPG, chaired by Carolyn Harris MP, took evidence from, among others, academics, problem gamblers, banks, charities and online gambling operators. 

Due to the political context, the group is yet to meet with the new Gambling Minister or any representative from the Gambling Commission. This therefore is an interim report, and the group will publish its full report after its final hearings.

Commenting on the report, Chair, GRH APPG, Carolyn Harris MP said: “This report highlights the urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of online gambling. Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector. It is not at all clear why the Gambling Commission is not looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator. There must be consistent and appropriate regulation of all forms of gambling. I also urge the Government to urgently review the provision of research, education and treatment in the sector. Gamble Aware are not effectively carrying out this function and it should immediately be brought into a public health setting.”

Commenting on the report, Vice-Chair, GRH APPG, Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith said: “Gambling addiction is becoming a public health crisis. It is clear from this inquiry that the powers of the Gambling Commission need to be significantly strengthened. For too long, online gambling operators have exploited vulnerable gamblers to little or no retribution from the regulator. We cannot continue to fail vulnerable gamblers. I therefore urge the Commission to look into this issue in greater depth. It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction.”

Commenting on the report, Vice-Chair, GRH APPG, Ronnie Cowan MP said: “It appears that the business model of some of these online gambling companies encourages and drives harmful gambling behaviour. These operators use various marketing and technological tools to extract as much money as possible from vulnerable gamblers, then use NDAs to cover up wrongdoings. This cannot continue to happen. The next Government and the Gambling Commission need to take radical actions to reduce gambling related harm.”