Labour Party proposes crackdown on regulation of online gambling

The Labour Party deputy leader, Tom Watson, has today delivered a speech at an Institute of Public Policy Research (“IPPR”) policy seminar (that can be viewed on Facebook here).

He has called for:

  • mandatory limits on online gambling spending, staking and speed of play, on the basis that “online gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their customers from placing bets that they cannot afford, but too often, these operators have either neglected the care of their customers or have been too slow in their due diligence” and
  • the introduction of a new “E Category” to gambling legislation to regulate online gambling products with a view to correcting what he sees as a regulatory imbalance between online and land-based gaming products,

having said, ahead of his speech, that:

Our current gambling laws are completely unfit for the digital age. The 2005 Act was written so long ago it has more mentions of the postal service than the internet. Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses.

He has also announced the launch of a two-month “gamer’s consultation” designed to gather information and evidence on the relationship between gaming and gambling, with a focus on skins and loot boxes.

As reported in SBC News, the Remote Gambling Association has issued a statement in response to Tom Watson’s comments, saying:

We fully embrace the need to move faster to tackle problem gambling through effective regulation based on innovation, evidence and customer data and we are committed to working with the Government and Opposition to achieve that goal. We support moves towards affordability and targeted intervention to ensure that those at risk of harm are identified without restricting or penalising those who enjoy their play and gamble responsibly.  Online operators continually monitor patterns of play making thousands of interventions each month to prevent harm occurring and we will input fully to this responsible gambling policy process. The online environment has the huge advantage of providing a complete overview of player spending patterns and behaviours, using this information can prove to be a more effective and more sophisticated way to tackle problem gambling and thereby avoid arbitrary limits that risk driving customers to the unregulated and illegal gambling market.

UPDATE: Tom Watson has now published the text of his speech on his website here. You can also download it below.