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Labour Steps Up Efforts to Restrict Gambling

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Labour leader Tom Watson steps up consumer protection in gambling.

Gambling in the United Kingdom has undergone quite a few changes. A Minister stepped down, the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) maximum bets were slashed and the remote gambling duty grew to 21% of the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) businesses generate.

Now, the Labour Party wants to further enhance customer protection. Their idea? Introduce mandatory limits on player spending as well stakes and how quickly individuals can play through piles of money. The changes are proposed as a blanket law that would affect England, Scotland, and Wales.

Labour leader Tom Watson appeared at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) where he participated in a policy seminar earlier today.

From the get-go, Mr. Watson explained the necessity of limiting spending, which will in turn “provide a framework for both industry and the regulator” to achieve better customer safeguards. Mr. Watson also wants to get casinos involved with even tighter fraud and money laundering checks.

With a flourish, Mr. Watson announced a number of changes, including a new consultation initiative that will actively seek links between gaming and gambling to speak nothing of the new E Category mechanism which will be used to keep iGaming in check.

Problem Gambling is Britain’s Hidden Epidemic

Mr. Watson has been talking about iGaming in the strictest terms, highlighting the ever-present dangers linked to the segment. Despite his tough stance language, though, he didn’t appear unfair. He further found an important ally in the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) which called his calls for stricter regulations well-justified:

We fully embrace the need to move faster to tackle problem gambling through effective regulation based on innovation, evidence and customer data and we are committed to working with the Government and Opposition to achieve that goal.

During the seminar, Mr. Watson again addressed the relationship between gaming and gambling, something that has been a divisive topic. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had looked into the so-called loot boxes, and while it noted an increased number of adolescents “gambling,” the Commission didn’t state outright that youngsters were developing addictive behavior. Mr. Watson commented, cited by the Guardian:

I don’t want gaming to become the gateway to gambling. It does seem to me that this might end up with the Gambling Commission.

Mr. Watson also said that gaming companies are urged to join forces with regulators and make sure that gambling behavior is uprooted from gaming. Electronic Sports (EA), one of the largest publishers, has got into hot water with regulators in Belgium over a delay to pull out loot boxes from their games in the country.

Ultimately, Mr. Watson’s clear: “We encourage video games companies to work with their gambling regulators and take action now to address those concerns to make sure that consumers, and particularly children, are protected.”

Tightening the screws of gambling doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but it should be coordinated and done well, especially when it comes to issues that the national regulator is uncertain about.

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