UK Closing Gambling Loopholes

The United Kingdom is planning to close loopholes in the Gambling Act 2005. With gambling addiction on the rise, the government acknowledges something needs to be done.

Tony Blair was the prime minister in 2005 when the Gambling Act was introduced. The goal of this piece of legislation was to create strict rules and turn the authorities into the toughest regulator globally.

However, the UK also had the extremely ambitious goal of simultaneously being the least restricted regime in the European area.

2005 Law Blamed for Rise in Addiction

Currently, the Labour Party is constantly referring to the gambling industry, with deputy leader Tom Watson calling the current situation as being a “hidden epidemic.”

As a result of the introduction of the Gambling Act , a number of loopholes opened for people to exploit. Over the years, some of these have been blamed for the increase in problem gambling.

For example, it took a long time for the authorities to decide to drastically curtail the number of fixed odds betting terminals, which have been widely blamed for causing issues with gambling and often attracted more vulnerable bettors.

Gambling-related advertising is another recent target. A group of MPs has formed to try and have such advertising campaigns significantly curtailed.

Everywhere they look, young people are exposed to pro-gambling messages. This seeps into the subconscious and normalizes the act of gambling.

During live sporting events for example, viewers can be faced during the breaks with ads for gambling companies. Gambling-related advertising boards are all around pitches, courts and arenas. Many teams are sponsored by gambling companies, and wear their logo on their shirts. While football is the usual focus of these companies, many other sports are also exposed.

This is why the Labour Party is committed to calling for stricter measures to be introduced, which will give more control to the authorities.

Labour will be careful in how it does this as gambling provides a lucrative source of revenue for the government. The UK gambling sector is worth about £14bn, which is a 65% increase on what was being generated 10 years ago.

As the Gambling Act 2005 has delivered the expected outcomes, new measures need to be taken to protect local communities from being further harmed by gambling. The maximum bet allowed at fixed odds betting terminals has now been cut to £2 from previously £100.

The part is also debating various measures that could be introduced to stop underage people from gambling, as well as helping more vulnerable people steer away from problem gambling tendencies.

Other Nations Making Changes

The UK isn’t the only one country making changes to its gambling laws to protect problem gamblers.

Italy, for example, has curtailed its gambling sector. A new coalition government came to power in 2018, which is anti-gambling.

Shortly after coming to power it implemented a ban on gambling advertising, which comes into effect in January 2019. It means that gambling companies can no longer advertise to Italian residents and they are also not allowed to sponsor teams and events. As this is a lucrative revenue source for teams, there has been a lot of outcry about this measure.

Many of them rely heavily on these sponsorships to survive. They have been given until May 2019 to end these sponsorship agreements, which gives them some time to find alternative sponsors. From what the coalition has been saying, more new rules and regulations are expected in the near future.

Some states in Australia have banned gambling advertisements being shown at certain times of the day, as well as during live events broadcast on Australian television.

The Irish president called for a similar ban to be created in the nation. President Michael Higgins, who is currently up for re-election, called for a ban to be implemented to preserve the integrity of sports and to help problem gamblers.

Ireland has had a number of high-profile cases in recent years regarding famous sports stars and their struggles with gambling addiction.

Surprisingly, some of the gaming operators are in favor of introducing stricter advertising requirements for the industry. The CEO of Ladbrokes and Coral, Kenny Alexander, has voiced his support for curtailing the hours in which gambling ads can be shown on television. This would see ads not being allowed to be shown before 9pm.

Alexander said: “Most people in the gambling industry think there are far too many ads. We should make the changes collaboratively with the rest of the industry, which might be difficult, and ultimately it’s up to the government to decide if it wants to legislate or not.”

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