The Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has published the final report. The APPG has concluded strict measures against gambling that include a total ban on advertising and banning the in-play betting.
The report came after a year of investigation into the online gaming market of Great Britain. The report included evidence from lawmakers, operators, the Gambling Commission, and also the sufferer of gambling-related harms.
The APPG has listed 30 recommendations for the regulatory changes. However, the foremost of them is the blanket ban on the advertisement.
The report claims that the advertisement encourages people to take gambling and make them vulnerable to gambling-related harm. However, it also opined that stricter control can also be opted for advertising. The report suggested that the prohibition could go beyond traditional channels such as banning gambling titles on various team shirts in sports.
It also reported that a review must be conducted on the bonuses and the incentives provided by the gambling operators to determine whether these contribute to gambling harms.
The APPG welcomed the efforts of managing the VIP scheme but demanded a ban on the ‘loyalty program’ and termed it as highly problematic.
The APPG reported that the Gambling Commission is well aware of the dependence of the operators on VIP schemes. The report also mentioned that certain operator have taken 83% of all the deposits from just 2% of its customers through VIP schemes. It also said that the award of VIP status has been mentioned seven out of ten times for the regulatory penalties issued to companies for failing to prevent gambling hazards.
The report mentions three major products that are popular among the problem gamblers. The APPG is in the view of the review of in-play betting, slots, and online roulette to determine how these products are regulated, tested, and classified for addictiveness.
It said that speed of random numbers generated from digital slots and roulette to be reduced. It urged to do away with the free spins, turbo spins, or reel stop play. It also wants the operators to provide accurate information on winning to the customers. It reassured the £2 slot stake limit as well.
The APPG wants in-play betting to be restricted to venues or via telephone.
It was asked for an overall review of stake limits. The APPG believes that stake limits and prize limits must be comprehensively reviewed to better manage remote gambling. It has also asked to follow up review and asked for customer filling affordability checks periodically to review the deposit limits of the customers.
The group has also lamented on the very idea of different regulatory standards and asked for the same set of control on online gambling as land-based gambling. The APPG has put fingers on the gambling commission ever since it has come to existence and the report did not miss that out. It termed the Gambling Commission as not fit for the purpose and asked for regulating online gambling. It has also asked for flexible funding for the gambling commission to cope with the growing responsibilities and asked for oversight on the money being spent by the commission.
The APPG has demanded the formation of an ombudsman to resolve the disputes of the consumers quickly.
The APPG however praised the Gambling Commission for finally banning the use of credit cards; however, it also questioned the delay to arrive at the decision. It also asked to ban other forms of credit such as loans and overdrafts.
The group has also recommended banning reverse withdrawal. Interestingly, operators such as GVC have banned it now to protect the players during the lockdown.
However, it further added that more time is required for research. It pointed out that there is very little understanding of the female problem gambling and said large scale research is required in the field. The APPG group recommended the establishment of a substantial longitudinal study to understand the life course of a problem gambler. The establishment would help to understand the disorder, awareness, and treatment of the problem gambler, it added.
The APPG added that further investigation and research should be conducted by an independent body.
The APPG held public evidence sessions, closed sessions, stakeholders submissions, and meeting with the Gambling Commission and Ministers for over a year before publishing the report.
Carolyn Harris, the MP for Swansea and the Chair of APPG said that the multi-million Pound Industry has destroyed the lives of people. She added that the industry does not intend to change and resist every time. However, they claim to be reforming. She insisted that the prime motive of these operators is to garner profit. She also mentioned that during COVID19, the operators claimed that they would not display ads, but instead they replaced ads with ads. She said that the industry has proven that they are beyond the capacity of self-regulation and things should change now.
The APPG however rejected the term ‘Prohibitionist’. Betting and Gaming Council have termed them the same, but the group insisted that they do what is important to protect the vulnerable.
MP for Inverclyde, Ronnie Cowan, and Vice-Chair of APPG said that the online gambling industry is growing exponentially but at the cost of destroying the lives of the people. He said that the government must not sit back and watch the industry extract money from the vulnerable.
He further said that the UK is bombarded by gaming and the sports is in the fist of the gambling industry, he said.
The APPG said that changes could be done some of the elements. However, a comprehensive and updated framework is the need of the hour to protect the players, believes APPG.
APPG however has no legislative powers but is considered very influential. The group was led by the MPs and also employed Interel, a Public Affair and Association Management Consultancy. The funding was provided by Derek Webb. Derek Webb is known for his role in campaigning for changes to fixed-odds betting terminal stakes from April 2019. He is a strong advocate of changing British Gambling Regulation.