UK Government launches review of 2005 Gambling Act

UK Government launches review of 2005 Gambling Act

The Culture Secretary has launched a major and wide-ranging review of the Gambling Act (2005) to ensure the UK’s regulatory framework is responsive and can protect children and vulnerable people, prevent gambling related crime, and keep gambling fair and open in the digital age.

Online restrictions, marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission will be looked at as part of a call for evidence, to examine in detail how gambling has changed over the past 15 years. Protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed will all be explored.

Ministers will also consider prohibiting betting companies from sponsoring sports clubs in a long-awaited review of gambling laws.

The findings from the call for evidence will be used to inform any changes to the Gambling Act 2005 to ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so.

The review will also look at evidence on the action customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements, such as intervening to protect customers showing clear signs of problematic play, and how to ensure children and young people are kept safe from gambling-related harm.

As part of the the Gambling Health Alliance (GHA), a national coalition of 50 leading charities and academics, Healthy Stadia welcomes the publication of the 2005 Gambling Act review, but is calling for the review to take a public health approach.

Other unhealthy commodity industries such as tobacco and more recently soft drinks have been subject to regulation in the UK and around the world to protect the public from the pernicious nature of marketing and advertising.

Due to the ‘gamblification of sports‘, particularly football, Healthy Stadia will put forward evidence that it is not simply shirt sponsorship that needs to be looked at. Several football clubs have multiple regional gambling sponsors that are featured on club websites and also on pitch-side advertising. Broadcast advertising is still common and often book-ends fixtures due to the so-called whistle-to-whistle advertising ban.

Mobile push notifications in close proximity to sports fixtures can nudge fans to place bets more frequently and the use of sports stars and sporting assets such as club crests, shirts and stadia help to normalise and legitimise the current gambling landscape. Not to mention that gambling shirt sponsors and pitch-side adverts feature in video games such as FIFA.

Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of Healthy Stadia, said:

“The current gambling regulations are unfit for purpose. The Government has been slow to update the Gambling Act despite the devastating effects of problem gambling being well documented.

“Now is the right time to intervene and prevent gambling companies from exploiting children, young people and vulnerable adults; to put in place measures that minimise gambling-related harm; and to re-claim sport as a vehicle for health promotion rather than one that exacerbates health inequalities.

If you work within professional sport or for a club community organisation and would like to contact Healthy Stadia about the review of the Gambling Act, you can contact Michael Viggars anonymously and in confidence here:

Michael Viggars

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