| MPs favour
reforms such as £2 limit on stakes, with Boris Johnson seen as
Online casinos should be
subject to maximum stake limits similar to the £2 limits imposed on
fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), according to a report released by a group
of MPs who are demanding a root and branch overhaul of gambling
In a wide-ranging report, members of the cross-party group on
gambling-related harm who include high-profile Conservatives such as
Iain Duncan Smith called for a raft of measures to protect vulnerable
- A £2 stake limit on online
- An end to betting by credit
- Restrictions on VIP
- An investigation into
The report also echoed Labours call for
the Gambling Act 2005 to be replaced, dismissing the existing law as
analogue legislation in a digital age, ill suited to regulating an
online sector that pulls in £5.6bn a year.
MPs in the all-party
parliamentary group (APPG) on gambling-related harm are understood to believe
that they have a good chance of influencing gambling policy, regardless of the
outcome of the general election.
Labour, which liberalised gambling
laws under Tony Blair, has already said it favours a stricter regime, while the
prime minister, Boris Johnson, is thought to be sympathetic to calls for
stricter regulation. He was among MPs who openly criticised the government over
a proposed delay to the curbs on FOBTs introduced earlier this year.
The interim report from the APPG, led by Labours Carolyn Harris,
Duncan Smith from the Conservatives and the SNPs Ronnie Cowan, is the
result of a six-month inquiry including evidence sessions with gambling
companies and addicts.
Among the more eye-catching recommendations in
the report, due to be published this week, is a maximum £2 bet on online
slot machines. This would echo the ban on £100-a-spin FOBTs introduced
earlier this year after the government branded the machines a social
blight following a lengthy campaign.
If they are not
acceptable in land-based venues they should not be allowed online, the
The MPs also backed calls to stop credit cards being used
to gamble as well as the introduction of mandatory affordability checks
to make sure customers dont get into financial difficulty.
The average disposable income in Britain is £450 a month but
online casinos and bookmakers often check on a customers finances only
after they have lost thousands of pounds.
And they also recommended
restrictions on VIP accounts, frequently cited in cases where
problem gamblers racked up huge debts after being offered incentives such as
free sport tickets or bonuses.
Brigid Simmonds OBE, the chair of the
industrys Betting and Gaming Council, said gambling companies were
committed to ensuring a safe gambling experience for all customers, using
the wide range of tools that online operators have at their disposal.
Our members continue to invest significantly in new technology to
make full use of data and algorithms to identify risk of harm and interact with
customers at an early stage, and to introduce new affordability checks on
But the report said gambling companies had not been
able to tell MPs what level of gambling they considered affordable and
therefore could not reliably intervene when customers are losing dangerous
This report highlights the urgent need for a root and
branch review of the regulation of online gambling, said Harris, who
oversaw the report.
She also singled out the industrys regulator
the Gambling Commission, saying it was not fit for purpose in the age of
internet gambling and required greater powers to sanction companies.
spokesperson for the Gambling Commission said: We are disappointed that
this report has been released before we have been given the chance to give
They added: The report does not reflect our
considerable action and progress on most of the areas of concern set out in the
report and we look forward to being given the chance to outline that work to
The commission said last week that it would not fine
Ladbrokes after the Guardian revealed the bookmaker told the victims of a
problem gamblers £1m theft that it would only repay them if they
signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The regulator has issued
guidance to firms advising against the use of such NDAs, and the cross-party
groups report called for a change in the law to prevent bookmakers using
them to keep information from the regulator.
The report also calls for
online firms to improve their systems to identify vulnerable people and protect
children, as well as to simplify terms and conditions.
the vice-chair of the APPG, said: It is outrageous that there are not
stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards
online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the
vulnerable without proper sanction.