The UK Gambling White Paper 2023: How It Affects Online Casino Players
With the UK Gambling White Paper 2023 sporting 268 pages of potential reform, to save you the trouble, we have sifted through the policy to highlight the key points on how the White Paper will affect you as a player.
This guidance has been a long time in waiting for the gambling industry; but it won’t just affect those working in the industry, it will also affect those who take part.
The last time a gambling reform was put into place was the 2005 Gambling Act; but much has changed since then, and the influx in popularity of iGaming has vastly changed the gambling landscape. It’s no longer just casinos, lotteries, bingo and scratch cards, nowadays players can bet almost anywhere at pretty much any time.
The White Paper is structured around six main themes: land-based gambling, marketing and advertising, the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources, dispute resolution and consumer redress, children and young adults and online protections - players and products.
Although the White Paper is just a consultation, many of its proposals are set to be put into place during the summer of 2024.
As mentioned previously, technology has advanced way beyond legislation when it comes to gambling. The White Paper suggests that, “Particular elements and products of online gambling are associated with an elevated risk of harm.” However, technological advancements have also brought some positives, because it also presents more ways to protect players.
The interventions the White Paper proposes, that will affect players, are: account level protections, safer games, empowered customers, financial risk check models and stake limits. Below are the main takeaways from the Gambling White Paper that will affect players in iGaming:
- There will be a stake limit for online slot games (fixed for all customers): In summer 2023 the Gambling Commission will consult on putting a stake limit for online slots between £2 and £15. Furthermore, an advisable ‘preferred’ £2 limit will be negotiated for those aged 18-24.
- If your account is restricted, licensed operators will be required to be transparent with their reasoning(s). Operators must also ensure customers are aware of any restrictions before placing a bet.
- Operators may only accept crypto assets, as payment, if they comply with the Gambling Commission requirements. This is due to keeping up with AML regulations and preventing regulatory risks.
- The UK Gambling Commission proposes that the triggers for enhanced background checks should be halved for those aged 18-24, due to evidence provided on increased risk for that age bracket.
- The UK Government and Gambling Commission will also be reviewing the design and targeting of rewards, such as bonuses and free bets, to make sure there are fair limits and transparency surrounding wagering requirements and time limits.
- The White Paper is also advocating for customers to have larger control over the types of marketing they’re receiving from operators; potentially allowing you to opt-in for online bonuses and opt-out for any marketing you don’t want to receive.
- VIP schemes could potentially increase to age 34, as men aged 25-34 have been proven to be an age group that suffers the most from gambling harm. Under 25’s also have vulnerabilities, which is why it is also being proposed that that age group is also excluded from VIP programmes.
Despite online gambling seemingly being the epicentre of the UK’s gambling reform approach, due to the technological advancement that’s occurred since 2005, there are also other areas that will also be affected by the implementation of the Gambling White Paper.
In order to protect children and young adults from experiencing gambling harm, the Gambling Commission has suggested that 18 should be the new proposed age for all forms of gambling.
Currently, in Great Britain, the UKGC has upped the National Lottery age (requiring you to be 18 to take part), however the age limit is still only 16 to enter football pools or (non-National Lottery) licensed lotteries, but that could soon well change as the UKGC pushes for no accessible gambling for those under the age of 18.
- Category D slot machines (such as penny falls or cane grab machines) currently have no minimum age for play, but they could end up becoming restricted for those over 18. That means no more penny-slot trips to the seaside arcade for the kids! This is despite there being little evidence provided that Category D machines cause any harm in childhood or later life.
- Category D machines that do not pay out cash will not be subject to the increase in the minimum age to play.
- Overall protections will be increased for those in the 18-24 age bracket as they are deemed to be more susceptible to gambling harms due to their continuing brain development, money management and financial circumstances.
- It is also being proposed that casino’s of all sizes will be permitted to offer sports betting, meaning you may soon be able to watch your favourite sporting event at a casino whilst also betting on it; heightening the overall betting experience for players.
- Players should also be able to have access to a new Gambling Ombudsman, and it should be accepting complaints, by the summer of 2024. This new Ombudsman will deal with disputes and provide appropriate action - when needed - if a player suffers losses due to lack of social responsibility from an operator, or needs any type of help related to gambling integrity or harms.
- Casinos will be permitted to increase their limit of slot machines from 20 to 80, giving players more choice.
- It is being encouraged that land-based licence holders will have to ‘Challenge 25’ instead of ‘Challenge 21’, so make sure you have your ID with you!
Financial Risk Checks
Financial risk checks are to be implemented as part of the new framework for the UK gambling industry, this means that the Gambling Commission is aiming to put a cap on how much players can spend (and lose). And if you do spend over the cap, then operators will be obliged to do more intensive background checks.
Operators need to make sure that their players can afford to gamble and that the gambling they are doing, is likely to be affordable and unharmful. The Gambling Commission is aiming to enforce two types of financial risk checks.
For moderate levels of spend, operators should conduct a background check for financial vulnerabilities such as County Court Judgments.
- Moderate levels of spend background checks are being proposed to take action when a player has a net loss more than £125 within a month or £500 within one year.
- Enhanced background checks will commence once a threshold of £1,000 net loss has been hit within 24 hours or a player has reached a net loss of over £2,000 within 90 days.
- Enhanced background check requirements will be halved for those aged 18-24 due to evidence of them being at a higher risk of a gambling problem.
However, the moderate check will reach about 10%-20% of players and enhanced checks will only reach about 3%-5% of online gambling accounts; that is, if this enforcement ends up going into action.
Marketing and Advertising
Marketing and advertising age-restricted products can be quite a difficult task as there are often many legislations in place to make sure that any marketing that shouldn’t reach the under 18’s - doesn’t. The Gambling Commission and the Government has been working with the Advertising Standards Authority to make sure that the UK’s gambling industry is doing its best to keep young people and children protected from any exposure to gambling.
Some proposals are already in action, meanwhile others are still waiting for approval but the highlights from the document are:
- The Gambling Commission plans to review wagering requirements, as sometimes they work out to be non-beneficial to the player. The UKGC plans to evaluate a maximum cap on wagering requirements and minimum time limits before offers expire.
- Another regulation that could be passed is operators having to offer the opportunity to opt-in and out of different forms of communication (e.g. text vs email vs push notifications) and different forms of marketing (e.g. free spins vs cross marketing). Additionally, customers should be able to change preferences at any time through their account settings.
- For online gambling, there has been a proposal to target safer algorithmic recommendations or to age-gate, to prevent those under 18 from coming across any gambling-related marketing.
- Advertising rules have prohibited well-known sportspeople from appearing in gambling adverts, in particular, Premier League Footballers. Premier League has since revealed that it will remove its gambling sponsor logos from the front of the players’ shirts from the end of the 25/26 season.
- The White Paper is also pushing for integrated signposting to support those who may be struggling with a gambling problem, who just don’t know it yet or don’t know where to look for help. Platforms should signpost users to independent sources of support such as NHS Treatment Services or GambleAware for example.
As you can see from the majority of reforms listed above - the main aim here is to help protect online players. Stay tuned to CasinoRange for more updates as, and when, the White Paper impacts our industry.