UK Government to Reveal Scope of Betting Law Review

The UK Government will next week outline the areas that will be featured in its long-awaited review of gambling laws. Sport’s relationship with gambling companies is likely to be high on the agenda with tighter regulation on advertising mooted.

The UK government is set to reveal the scope of its long-awaited review of the Gambling Act 2005. Expected next week, ministers will announce which areas are being examined with the relationship between sport and gambling companies expected to be a focus point.

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UK Government Starts Betting Law Review ©Pixabay.

Currently, ten Premier League clubs have shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies. These are; Aston Villa (W88), Bournemouth (M88), Burnley (LoveBet), Crystal Palace (ManBetX), Everton (SportPesa), Newcastle United (Fun88), Norwich City (Dafabet), Watford (Sportsbet.io), West Ham United (Betway) and Wolves (ManBetX).

A further five top-flight clubs are involved with a betting partner, meaning three-quarters of the Premier League clubs have a direct connection with gambling companies. The number is even higher in the second tier, with 87% of Championship clubs having a relationship with betting firms.

The UK’s culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, stated that he wants the new law to be fit for “the digital age”, adding that the gambling industry had evolved at “breakneck speed”. He added:

This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely. Oliver Dowden, culture secretary.

Several campaigners have called for the UK to follow the lead of other European countries who have banned gambling companies from going into partnership with gambling companies.

In Spain, legislation was introduced in February this year limiting gambling advertising to broadcasting on TV and radio between 1 am, and 5 am, gambling sponsorship deals with sports teams were restricted but not banned, and a limit on bonuses was proposed.

These rules were strengthened in July with the Co-vid outbreak and recently tightened even further with gambling sponsorships banned with operators prohibited from having their branding appear on teams’ shirts.

Italy adopts similar measures with direct and indirect advertising, sponsorship or promotional communications from gambling companies banned.

In July, a Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry Gambling Harm released a far-ranging report on the current situation with the UK gambling laws.

The report made 66 recommendations, they include;

  • Betting – The creation of a statutory independent Gambling Ombudsman Service. Ban on ‘bet to view’ streaming events.
  • Gaming – New games to the market be tested for harm indicators before launch. Speed of online games matched with speed of land-based games.
  • Marketing – Affiliates must be licensed by the Gambling Commission. Ban on sports teams kit sponsorship / stadium sponsorship (suspended till 2023). Independent research into links between gambling advertising and gambling harm.
  • Lottery – Minimum age increased to 18. Introduction of a gross profits tax. Regulator to monitor admin and advertising costs.
  • Regulator – A new funding model for UKGC. Operator fines should reflect size of the operator. UKGC performance measured every three years.

It is likely that the government will use the recommendations from the Lords select committee as a framework for its own review.

The government has confirmed it will gather evidence over the next 16 weeks before the review closes on 31 March 2021.

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