As the government is preparing to impose more restrictive measures on gambling in a bid to safeguard consumers against gambling-related harm, and in more extreme cases, suicides, not everyone seems to be happy with the measure.
In fact, some 65% of gamblers in the United Kingdom argue that by being too restrictive and setting limits on the amounts that they can spend, the government is effectively going to push them into the reach of unregulated black market operators. This could give rise to the illegal gambling market in the United Kingdom, many warn.
Gamblers Opposed to Restrictive Measures
The latest data comes courtesy of YouGov which interviewed gamblers in the United Kingdom and found out that 56% of them believed that restrictive measures from the government were not the answer. This percentage agreed that limits should not be imposed.
Betting and Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher, a prominent lobbyist for the gambling industry, has advised pragmatism and urged the government to not adopt an “anti-gambling stance.”
He talked about the importance of guaranteeing people’s privacy and freedom of choice and expressed his opposition to obtrusive personal and financial checks that would have to be completed under a proposed new set of measures before gamblers are allowed to participate in games of chance.
This would make people less willing to play at regulated gambling websites that come with too much “red tape.” “Telling them what they can and cannot do with their own time and their own money isn’t going to help fix that perception,” Dugher argued. This appeal has not seemed to sway UK Gambling Commission chairman Marcus Boyle who confirmed that the industry will have to prepare for harsher measures.
Those measures are not meted out in a bid to clamp down on the industry, which is an important source of tax revenue and job opportunities, but rather to ensure that people are safeguarded against the risks of excessive gambling.
Boyle spoke to The Times and argued that moving forward, the commission would not tolerate companies that are only meeting “minimum standards,” and said that those companies may lose their licenses.
Not Ham-Fisted Approach Says UKGC
In his interview talking about the upcoming mechanisms to regulate and supervise gambling firms, Boyle explained:
“Operators can expect to see cumulative sanction packages with not only increased financial penalties but also a suite of sanctions aimed at changing behavior, including fines being based on a percentage of customer takings, short or long-term suspensions and attaching significant conditions to licenses.”
UK Gambling Commission chairman Marcus Boyle
Not all is bad, though. The regulator has been able to leverage big data to look into player gambling behaviors online which now allows it to draft measures that are more aptly tailored to the needs of the market. Gambling Act 2005 was passed at a time when the proliferation of online gambling markets was not so pronounced.
Boyle assured that any of the proposals are not one-sided and that they are being developed with the help of the most established companies in the industry which has allowed the regulator to further launch a feasibility study. Technology is going to come to the help of regulators and make it possible to quickly spot vulnerable gamblers.
The BGC assured that its members were already using these solutions in order to fully comply with UKGC-mandated guidelines. In addition, problem gambling in the country has fallen to 0.2% compared to 0.4% a year before, meaning, the BGC explained, that stakeholders are on the right path.
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