British lawmakers have begun to turn their eyes towards the “predatory” gambling industry, as they believe that restrictions should be put in place to help stem the growth of gambling addiction in the U.K.
According to a recent report from The Daily Mail, several members of the British Parliament have called on the government to impose strict limits on the gambling amounts wagered on online betting platforms, citing this as a possible solution to the destructive effects of gambling addiction.
A Blanket Restriction on Gambling
Back in May, the maximum stake on fixed betting terminals was cut from £100 ($1.29) to £2 $2.58). The BBC reported at the time that British Culture Secretary Matt Hancock argued that the limit was necessary, as electric casino games and other gambling services had become “a very serious social blight needs to be tackled.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport also revealed that it would need to increase the Remote Gaming Duty (a tax levied against online casino games) to “cover any negative impact on the public finances.”
However, none of these betting limits or restrictions had been applied to online gambling sites. Considering how relatively easier it is for people to gamble online, it would call to question why these platforms aren’t being limited accordingly.
As the Mail reports, the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group, a parliamentary group that examines the impacts of gambling-related harm in society, has called for swift action concerning this matter, citing cases where online gambling had been detrimental to the well-being of its players.
Nixed on Multiple Fronts
Beyond the limits and cash restrictions, the body also called for a ban on the use of credit cards on online betting sites. This measure, it hopes, could save compulsive gamblers from insurmountable credit card debts.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Vice Chairman of the group, likened the gambling addiction issue to a public health concern. The Mail reports that the U.K. has 430,000 compulsive gamblers, and around 55,000 of them are children. Estimates reveal that the epidemic costs the government about £1.2 billion ($1.55 billion) annually.
Smith called for more restrictive power to be given to the Gambling Commission, adding that it is time for the government to do right by vulnerable gamblers and save them from exploitation at the hands of operators.
“I, therefore, urge the Commission to look into this issue in greater depth. It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction,” Smith explained.
The report also recommended the restriction of VIP accounts and other incentives that are given by online betting platforms to excessive, frequent gamblers.
Other recommendations include the revision of the terms and conditions on online gambling platforms, as proponents believe that simplified terms and conditions will make for easier comprehension. MPs also asked for gambling addiction and other related harms to be included in the National Health Scheme remit.