The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) have announced they are considering reducing the maximum stakes on online casinos to £2.00. This imposed cap would affect all online casino games, bingo and slot. The final decision is set to be outlined before August this year.
New proposal would overhaul the online gambling industry
This latest announcement is a follow up to a statement released by the UKGC in November last year, following pressure from the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group. At the time, a spokesperson for the UKGC said “we would be looking at online stake limits as part of our ongoing work to reduce the risks of gambling-related harm”.
The Gambling Related Harm APPG would like to see online casinos mirror changes rolled out in April 2019 for Fixed Odds Terminals in pubs and betting shops on the high street.
Arguably this could be a good move to reduce the harm large bets have on problem gamblers. MPs have welcomed this latest proposal, viewing it as one measure to tackle the “public health crisis” of gambling addiction within the UK. Carolyn Harris, Chair of the Group, said of this announcement: “a review of stake limits online has been clearly recommended by the all-party parliamentary group and is long overdue. I am very pleased that the Gambling Commission has finally seen sense on this.
“Online slot content games should be reduced to £2.00 a spin in line with the rules in betting shops. The Gambling Commission must stop being reactive and take action to protect the vulnerable from harm in line with their licensing objectives”.
However, in the wake of this latest announcement shockwaves are being felt throughout the industry, with share prices plummeting more than £500m. Last April when Fixed Odds Terminal’s maximum stake was capped from £100 to £2.00, shares in the UK gambling industry fell by £1.2 million.
According to Megaways Casino, such as drastic step could lead to UK gamblers playing at unlicensed casinos.
“Governments need to be careful with interfering. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Betting limits such as this may see honest gamblers turn to unregulated casinos which would be disastrous.”
The latest in a raft of changes
The UK gambling industry is heavily regulated and within the last year has seen new rules introduced, including stringent verification checks and increased taxation. Last month saw the use of credit card deposits banned for both offline and online casino games betting and will come into force this April.
Brigid Simmons, Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, has said a review of the gambling act was inevitable:
“We need to have an online betting gaming industry in this country which is best in class but also competitive in a world where, if you are not careful, you could drive people into the black market which we don’t want to do”.
According to a report conducted by accountancy firm PWC, 2.2% of British gamblers have used unlicensed gambling operators. Gross turnover for this illegal sector is estimated at £1.4 billion.
Many hold the view that the UK Gambling Act is “an analogue law in a digital age”, but whichever side of the debate you fall, this review is set to shake up the UK gambling industry. For now, it’s all eyes on the UK Gambling Commission as we wait for a final decision within the next six months.