UK Government Finally Starts Long-Awaited 2005 Gambling Act Review

Author Thomas Wolf
December 16, 2020 3 min read
by Thomas Wolf

Fifteen years since it last enacted widespread changes in the sector, the UK government looks set to complete its review of the 2005 Gambling Act legislation in 2021.

The initial consultation began on December 8.

This first evidence-gathering phase covers a wide-ranging set of 45 questions across three core aims and objectives of the reform.

The goals are:

  1. To “examine whether changes are needed to the system” that governs gambling in the UK. The gambling landscape has changed a lot since 2005, so the answer here will probably be yes.
  2. To ensure there is an “appropriate balance” between freedom for consumers and gamblers while also preventing harm and problem behaviours.
  3. To ensure there is an “equitable approach” to the regulation of online and offline gambling in the UK and to guarantee 100% customer protection of data and funds.

The deadline for responses to the questions is March 2, 2021, with the full report scheduled for release at an unknown date next year, too.

“We need to ensure our regulatory and legislative systems continue to deliver on the original aims of the 2005 Act, which remain the government’s priorities: the protection of children and vulnerable people in a fair and open gambling economy which is also crime-free,” said Nigel Huddleston, Conservative Minister for Sport, Tourism, and Heritage in his ministerial foreword to the announcement.

White Labels and the UKGC

The UK’s official regulator, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), is often on our pages. It’s one of the most active regulators in Europe and has recently been increasing the number (and weight) of fines it dishes out every year.

However, the government still wants to know if the regulator’s powers are “sufficient.” It also wants to gather up-to-date information on the state of the black market gambling scene in the UK – which hasn’t been rampant for many years.

That focus might put some other organizations in the firing line – namely, so-called “white-label” casino sites.

These sites provide a stock platform on which casino operators can build their own casinos. Sometimes, these operators aren’t licensed with the UKGC itself but run off the main label operator’s license.

The government is concerned that some of these 700 or so white-label operators in the UK opt for this strategy because they are otherwise “unable to meet the GB unable to meet the GB regulatory standards required to obtain a license themselves.”

This could be bad news for companies like SkillOnNet or White Hat Gaming, which provide white-label services to dozens of UK-facing casinos.

Costly Complaints

Another option the government may be looking at through this reform is the establishment of an official ombudsman – a complaint handler and officiator.

A significant proportion of complaints at the moment are not handled because the current regulation is unclear. This means some customers are forced to spend a lot of money to go to court, or their complaints are just left unsatisfied.

An ombudsman would be able to provide legal clarification and even make binding interpretations of any new rules.

The UK is one of Europe’s biggest gambling markets, although it hasn’t been such an attractive proposition lately.

Whatever this new regulation means for the UK online casino industry, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the consequences. For that, plus other gambling news, keep checking online.casino/news.

Author Thomas Wolf

Author

Thomas Wolf

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