mental health

UK gambling reform: More details emerge as health experts reject responsible gambling tax

Rishi Sunak addresses Parliament
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Posted on: April 7, 2023, 03:52h.

Last update on: April 7, 2023, 11:12 a.m.

The UK government believes a 24-year-old is capable of voting to decide who will run the country, but unable to spend more than £2 (US$2.49) to gamble online. It comes as anti-gambling lawmakers seek to take responsible gambling action to extremes, an effort that even some health experts say is failing.

Rishi Sunak addresses parliament
Rishi Sunak addresses Parliament shortly after taking power in the UK. The gambling white paper is getting closer to publication and rumors of strict limits on online gambling have surfaced again. (Picture: PA News)

There is still no date for the government to present its white paper on gambling, which will contain the biggest reform in almost 20 years. However, with the framework seemingly almost ready to ship, there are plenty of scuttlebuts about what it will feature.

The sun would have an internal track on updates, and said the amount people can spend playing through online slots will continue to be limited. There could be limits between £2 and £15 (US$18.65), with the former targeting anyone under 25.

down the rabbit hole

The idea of ​​a £2 limit is not new and has been part of UK gambling reforms for over a year. The difference now, however, is that the white paper is about to be released. This means that if That of the sun the data is correct, the limits are more than just pointless chatter.

The white paper will be a roadmap of government expectations for the gaming industry, but it won’t be the final word. This is a draft version of the regulations that will always be open for final review by legislators and will require input from gaming industry insiders. It is only after these consultations that the final version new laws will be ready for implementation.

There are also rumors of far-reaching accessibility controls, although it’s still unclear how they will work. The government and proponents of the checks have tried to downplay the initiative, now calling them “credit checks”.

It is still possible that the final version of the new gambling regulations will take a softer approach. There have also been rumors of an almost complete advertising ban. But some parliamentarians have expressed their opposition to this measure.

Forced taxes miss the mark

Another recent rumor on the contents of the white paper suggests that a mandatory levy on operators is coming. This would replace the “voluntary” contributions they currently make to the government and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

To date, gaming operators have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to responsible gaming initiatives. Several entities, such as Flutter or Entain, have also been pioneers in terms of internal risk prevention.

All of these efforts are part of the reason the problem gambling rate in the UK is below 0.2%. If the government forces the new levy, according to several health experts, all this work will have been in vain.

An article in the British medical journal (BMJ) Thursday attempts to explain what will happen with a mandatory levy. The report, “Legal gambling levies may do more harm than good,” is the result of a collaborative effort between leading health experts in the UK and Australia.

The report’s authors say problem gambling is on the rise, but the UK government has done little to address it. They add that it has done little to “support independent research, education and treatment of the game”.

Creating policy without proper research is a dangerous game. The authors acknowledge that current funding for responsible gambling comes from voluntary contributions, adding that a legal levy has “major flaws”. According to the authors’ conclusions, these defects are mainly the result of the gaming industry’s attempts to disrupt the new status quo.

More harm than good

The report, citing previous studies, states: “A levy also diverts attention from advertising controls and product regulation, an approach that one would expect to be more effective. Simply implementing the levy would also give lawmakers a way to pat themselves on the back without further exploring the issue.

The authors add, “If a levy deflects questions about how much harm to tolerate and on what grounds, it is likely to do more harm than good.” Therefore, instead of developing a half-armed solution based on limited data, large-scale research is needed in order to formulate the best approach.

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