The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) released a report evaluating proposed regulation in the UK branding affordability caps as a paternalistic measure that would lead to invasion of privacy.
Invasion of Privacy
The think-tank organization strongly believes that other regulatory measures put forth such as the ban on gambling advertising and sponsorships are unnecessary and there is not enough evidence to support the idea that their implementation would reduce rates of problem gambling in the UK.
The report claims the aim of the reform stated by the government – to respect enjoyment from gambling and freedom for adults to choose how to spend their money – would be in conflict with many of the proposed policies from the anti-gambling coalition.
Currently, the government is considering measures to limit the number of money players can spend and lose within the review of the Gambling Act 2005, and the IEA openly criticized some of the proposed measures.
“Although it has been suggested the deposit limit could be lifted for those who prove they can afford it, it is not easy to see how this could be done without significant bureaucracy and the invasion of privacy.”IEA
Limiting Gambling instead of Problem Gambling
Arguing that people will be treated as if taking out a mortgage or living off the proceeds of crime when they simply want to gamble, the IEA report bashed the proposed £2 stake limit for online games, predicting a similar effect from its implementation to the effect from the £2 stake limit on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), namely pushing away many players.
“This is not regulation in the normal sense, but a form of neo-prohibition which would likely drive players to unlicensed, unregulated and untaxed websites.”IEA
The report dismissed claims of the gambling epidemic as not evidence-based as there is no rise in problem gambling rates since 1999 and since 2015 money spent on gambling decreased, and stated that a ban on advertising will make it harder for players to distinguish licensed from offshore operators.
“It would deprive advertising platforms of an important source of revenue and stifle competition. There is very little evidence that it would have any impact on problem gambling.”IEA
IEA noted a ban on sports sponsorship is only likely to impact brand establishing efforts for licensed operators and have a devastating impact on sports such as football in the lower leagues, darts, and snooker, with no evidence in terms of positive effect on problem gambling rates.
Players Will Shift to Offshore Gambling
With regards to limits of speed on play online, the report concluded many players would get bored by the artificially long gaps between bets, noting the proposed measure is rather looking to deter gambling per se, instead of tackling problem gambling, and will just contribute to many players switching to offshore operators.
“The technology exists to track harmful patterns of play and intervene. Sophisticated algorithms and timely interventions for the minority of high-risk gamblers are more effective than simplistic, blunt tools.”IEA
Calling the proposed measures “punitive”, the IEA believes in the potential of technology of tracking problem behavior patterns if set as the industry standard through regulation.
“It is these practical solutions, not the blunt tools of anti-gambling activists, that could be the focus of the government’s review.”IEA