News | Published August 06 2020

Ministers weighing-up loss cap on gambling websites, the Telegraph reports

Ministers are considering plans to introduce a £100 loss limit on gambling websites to reduce risk to lower-income players, following a report by the Social Market Foundation.

The Telegraph reports that the Social Market Foundation’s report proposes a “soft cap” on spending, under which anybody wanting to spend over £23 per week on gambling would be asked to provide evidence that they could afford to lose such a sum of money.

The report, which was handed to the government this week, also recommends that “affordability checks” be introduced across the sector to spot vulnerable gamblers.

At present, sector operators conduct affordability checks only where they feel a customer is at risk.

Such checks could involve asking gamblers to provide a pay slip or tax return or provide details of their credit rating to prove that they were in a position to lose money.

The cap would not apply in circumstances where a gambler wins money from a bet and reinvests those winnings into another bet.

The proposed new system would see a watchdog have access to data from all sector operators to oversee the new standard affordability checks.

Other proposals outlined in the report include changes to how the gambling industry is taxed and a proposed limit of £5 on online slot games.

It recommends that companies must have a “minimum footprint” in the UK to discourage operators running the majority of their business offshore, arguing for incentives like tax rebates to entice operators to maintain a base in the UK.

The report’s author, James Noyes, commented: "For too long, gambling operators have talked about the need to protect their customers, but have not worked together in order to make affordability checks a reality.

"A fixed cap that applies across operators is the only way that consumers can be protected from harmful spend."

He added that the new cap would “set the bar low enough to protect everyone, including those on low incomes, but is high enough to reflect the vast majority of gambling activity among the general population”.

He said: “Gamblers should be free to spend more than this threshold, but only after they show that their gambling is neither unaffordable nor harmful.”

A major government review of UK gambling laws is expected to come in the autumn in any case, according to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister Helen Whately.

In the wake of the report, the Betting and Gaming Council has argued that “robust and improved affordability checks” are already conducted.

The industry body said in a statement: “We disagree with the suggestion of an arbitrary and random low cap on spending and can think of no other area of the economy where the government determines how much an individual can spend.”

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
August 06 2020

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