According to a report in The Sun, the government’s long-awaited gambling review white paper is set to include proposals for levy reform. The levy, which is currently based on a percentage of bookmaker profits on British racing and yielded £97.6 million in 2021-22, is due to be reviewed by 2024. However, sport’s leadership has been calling for the review to be brought forward and for the levy system to be reformed to extend its reach to betting on all global racing as well as adjusting it to be based on turnover rather than profits to boost income.
The Sun report also stated that betting on horseracing is set to face higher taxes under the new review to ensure proper funding for the sport. The government launched the gambling review in December 2020, and the resulting white paper is expected to be published after parliament returns from the Easter recess on April 17.
The white paper is also expected to include measures such as affordability checks, with operators set to carry out “credit checks” alongside duties to look for signs of unaffordable losses. It is also reported that people under 25 would be unable to gamble more than £2 per spin on online slots, although older punters would be allowed to stake up to £15, a higher figure than expected. Other measures include a statutory levy on operators to pay for problem gambling research, education and treatment, and the creation of a gambling ombudsman to deal with customer complaints.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is quoted as saying that the proposals are “targeted to protect people who are at risk of addiction, catastrophic loss and harm, with minimal disruption to the majority.” However, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport refused to comment on the report, stating that the government is determined to protect those most at risk of gambling-related harm and is working to finalize the details of the review.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Scott Benton has had the party whip withdrawn following a sting by The Times newspaper in which he was filmed offering to lobby ministers on behalf of fake gambling industry investors who had offered him a fee of up to £4,000. The Times reported that Benton had told undercover reporters he could leak a copy of the gambling white paper before it was published. Benton is the chair of the Parliamentary All-Party Betting and Gaming Group, although such groups are informal and have no official status in parliament.
The government’s gambling review has been eagerly anticipated by the industry, with calls for reform growing in recent years due to concerns over problem gambling and the impact of gambling advertising. The introduction of tighter regulations and increased taxation could have significant implications for the industry, particularly for online operators who have seen a surge in business during the pandemic.
Overall, the government’s proposals for gambling reform are expected to be far-reaching, with a focus on protecting vulnerable individuals and addressing the wider social and economic impact of gambling. The extent to which these proposals are implemented remains to be seen, but the industry will be watching closely as the white paper is finally published.