UK Legislators Seek Online Limits Despite Threat of Black Market Growth

Posted on: November 25, 2021, 10:51h. 

Last updated on: November 25, 2021, 02:26h.

A group of prominent officials in the UK is calling for strict limits on online gaming in the UK. The group is calling for capping online bets at £2 ($2.67).

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith speaks before Parliament, above. Smith is one of many political figures pushing for severe caps on online gambling spending. (Source: The London Economic)

The proposal was put forth by a group of prominent government officials and religious leaders, including former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, 100 Members of Parliament, and 18 bishops. In all, more than 160 individuals were behind the letter.

In a letter to The Telegraph, the group collectively warned that more than 55,000 children aged 11-16 are problem gamblers. They referenced data from Public Health England, which asserts that the social and economic consequences of gambling could include family breakdowns, various health problems, unemployment, and serious financial problems, including bankruptcy.

The timing of the letter isn’t a coincidence. The UK is currently reviewing its gambling laws and regulations, with a new framework expected to come early next year.

The Cost of Gambling

According to data cited by the group, the economic and social cost of gambling is at least £1.27 billion (US $1.69 billion) per year. Limiting the way people can bet online, they assert, would reduce that cost and the impact on society.

It is time for the Government to live up to the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto commitment to a review of gambling laws, levelling up, social justice and a better future for us all,” the letter read.

If the proposal becomes law, UK gamblers may be restricted to spending £100 ($133) per month. The changes include a limit on online betting of PS2 and the requirement that gambling operators apply strict affordability checks for their customers to ensure they don’t spend more than they can afford.

Gambling Rates Down

The group asserts that implementing limits on gambling is the only way to prevent compulsive gambling. However, according to data from the UKGC, problem gambling is actually down in the country. The “moderate risk rate” is down 50% (from 1.4% to 0.7%) from June 2020 to June 2021.