Released: A Review of the Gambling White Paper

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Released: The Gambling White Paper

The long-awaited “white paper on gambling” was published on Thursday 27th April 2023. It creates some of the biggest regulatory changes in the last 20 years, but some are already arguing that it’s not enough.

So, what changes have been proposed and how will they impact the UK gambling industry today and in the future?

The white paper touches on several key areas, and we’ll try to summarise all of them here

Affordability Checks

If you check the terms and conditions of a UK gambling site, you’ll find something known as a “source of funds” request. It’s an affordability and anti-money laundering check conducted by the site to check where the player’s money is coming from.

Simply put, if you deposit £1,000 and proceed to lose all of it in an hour, they may contact you to ensure you can afford to lose that money.

However, these requests are rarely implemented, despite those terms existing for several years.

The new white paper could change that, with affordability checks conducted at varying thresholds.

These include a “moderate loss threshold” check for occasions when there is a “£125 net loss within a month or £500 within a year”. It also targets higher stake levels that could indicate problem gambling, with these checks occurring when there is a “£1,000 net loss within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days”.

It is estimated that these checks will affect 3% of active gambling accounts.

Slot Limits

Online slot machines are seen as a high-risk product due to their high limits and the habitual nature in which they are played. The white paper suggests a stake limit of between £2 and £15 to counter this, with greater protections promised for players aged between 18 and 24.

The exact limits are still in discussion, but even at £15, it’s a far cry from the £100+  max bets seen on many current slots.

Advertising

A couple of weeks ago, the Premier League banned sponsors from the front of shirts beginning in 2026. The white paper highlighted these changes and promised to take things further.

Many of the proposals concern the advertising of bonuses, including free bets. They include:

  • Wagering limits that promote fair use and don’t promote problem gambling
  • VIP schemes that are not used to exploit gamblers
  • The ability for players to opt out of advertising

It also highlighted the need to reduce the number of offers and products being advertised to minors and problem gamblers.

Statutory Levy

The white paper proposed a mandatory levy that will be paid by operators, collected by regulators, and used to fund problem gambling programs. 

Operators have voluntarily given funds to organisations like GambleAware over the last few years, but that could soon become a requirement. 

What All of This Means

The gambling white paper seems to have been fairly well received by gambling operators. The general public also seems to think that big brands have gotten off lightly. Shares in 888 were up 1.60% on Thursday and while shares in Entain dipped a little, they are still up over 3% for the week and 20% for the month.

More importantly, these new regulations should protect players and safeguard the industry. Sure, some players in the aforementioned “3%” will be a little annoyed by the sudden affordability requests, but countless others will be prevented from losing everything to problem gambling.

It’s a good trade-off, and one that should keep players, regulators, and operators happy for the foreseeable future.

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