While the review of the Gambling Act in the UK is ongoing, a new report reveals that major gambling industry players lobbied Treasury officials. The report claims the industry warned that tough restrictions may increase the share of the black market.
Treasury Officials Met with Gambling Operators, Claims Report
Launched in December 2020, the review of the Gambling Act in the UK is still ongoing. It was initially expected that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport would release the report following the review of the main gambling law in the first few months of the year. Although the report was delayed, it is expected to be disclosed soon. In light of the upcoming release of the whitepaper, a new report reveals that the industry is opposing tough restrictions, claiming those would result in customers shifting to the black market.
Late last week, The Guardian released details obtained under the freedom of information laws, pointing out that a meeting occurred between representatives of leading gambling firms with Treasury officials last year. According to that report, representatives of Flutter, which operates Paddy Power and Betfair brands, Entain, which operates Ladbrokes, Coral, and PartyCasino brands, as well as Bet365 had an online meeting with officials from the Treasury on October 7, 2021. Considering that the meeting wasn’t with ministers but tax officials, details about it were not previously disclosed to the public.
“It is vital that the government takes a holistic view of tax and regulatory changes over the coming months or there is the very real risk that the UK’s remote gambling sector is hit in a way that not only reduces its economic and fiscal contribution but also increases levels of gambling-related harm by incentivizing a shift to unlicensed gambling operators that pay no UK tax.”document presented to Treasury officials as released by The Guardian
At the meeting, the gambling industry warned that tough restrictions for the regulated online market in the country may benefit the black market. Backing up its claim, the representatives presented a report commissioned by the industry and compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The whitepaper discovered an increase in the share of the black market gambling operators in the country.
Considering that report, the betting operators claimed that strict gambling laws may direct even more consumers to unregulated or unlicensed operators. What’s more, if consumers use unregulated or black market operators, this would mean fewer taxes for the Treasury’s coffers. It is also important to mention that while licensed operators pay taxes and adhere to responsible gambling rules, this is not the case for black market gambling companies. In other words, there’s nothing to protect consumers that use the services of black market operators from gambling harm.
Final Changes to the Gambling Act Are Yet to Be Confirmed
It is yet to be confirmed what changes the review of the Gambling Act will bring. Betting limits for online slots and restrictions for VIP schemes are among the possible changes which may be introduced in the UK. Additionally, the review of the Gambling Act may introduce enhanced affordability checks for gamblers as well as additional funding for problem gambling treatment.
The Betting and Gaming Council previously warned about unintended consequences which may be brought by regulatory changes in the UK. In a statement released late in March, BGC’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, urged the reviewers of the Gambling Act to ensure the well-being of the market in the country.