Gambling laws in Great Britain – The review begins

United Kingdom

This morning (8 December 2020), the UK Government launched its “major and wide-ranging” and long-awaited review of gambling laws in Great Britain. A call for evidence will run for 16 weeks and will close on 31 March 2021.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said its review will include consideration of:

  • Online stake and spend limits

  • Age limits

  • Gambling advertising and promotional offers

  • Actions customers can take where they feel operators have breached social responsibility requirements, such as intervening to protect customers showing clear signs of problematic play

  • How to ensure children and young people are kept safe from gambling-related harm

  • Extra protections for young adults

  • The Gambling Commission’s role, powers and resources

Alongside the launch of the review, the Government also announced today that the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 from October 2021.

The Government is also expected to imminently publish its response to the House of Lords Select Committee report on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry.

DCMS has said that the purpose of its review is to “examine in detail how gambling has changed over the past 15 years” and ensure the Gambling Act 2005 is “fit for the digital age”. In the press release, the Government expresses its desire to “ensure customer protection is at the heart of the regulations, while giving those that gamble safely the freedom to do so” and it “recognises the need to balance the enjoyment people get from gambling with the right regulatory framework and protections”. 

The launch of the review follows the Gambling Commission’s new rules on VIP schemes as well as its call for evidence in relation to ensuring operators identify and intervene where people are at risk of harm – including through carrying out affordability checks at thresholds set by the Gambling Commission. An introduction of affordability checks would undoubtedly have significant ramifications for the gambling industry and this Gambling Commission consultation is arguably the most important it has issued in recent times. It will be interesting to see how the Gambling Commission’s call for evidence will feed into and influence the Government’s wider review and, in particular, whether it will go ahead and make such a fundamental policy change as introducing affordability thresholds without waiting for the results of the Government’s review.

We will be monitoring the review closely as it progresses and intend to publish a range of updates as more information becomes available.