Labour Party proposals to regulate the industry will protect consumers not cripple the industry.
The UK Labour Party is seeking to appoint a new ombudsman to preside over the gambling industry. Deputy leader Tom Watson recently gave a speech at the thinktank Demos, where he justified the need for an official to oversee the industry by citing cases that demonstrate its “predatory” practices. Among the scandals mentioned were stolen bets that amounted to millions of pounds in total.
According to Watson, the party’s proposal will come hand-in-hand with a new Gambling Act. This will hopefully reduce the number of problem gamblers, as well as introduce stricter regulations that will deter gambling firms from doing “dirty deals.” One new rule, for instance, will be a ban on credit card use for bets, as this supposedly increases the risk for problem gamblers to fall into debt.
This all comes in the aftermath of a crackdown on the industry for showing misleading advertisements. Last year, ads that offered people free money and encouraged users to bet were blocked. Many of those ads were determined to be deceptive, making promises or suggestions that were not accurate, such as shaky “money back guarantees” and the like.
Now, this its not to suggest that such false advertisements or incentives necessarily affected the bulk of the gambling population. With betting and gaming having been legal in the UK for some time, many who are experienced with the practices know where to look for fair and secure gaming. Guides to online games can be found at reputable slot and casino platforms, and betting sites should only be trusted if they display adequate security and fairness certifications.
Despite the fact that many who are inclined to gamble understand these things, the Labour Party believes that the current operating framework of the UK Gambling Commission is ineffective when it comes to protecting consumers’ interest. What Watson and the Labour Party want is essentially more transparency in terms and conditions. This should help players become aware of the risks they’re taking, what they’re putting into each wager, and what they might get out of it. The appointed ombudsman, if such a position does indeed come into existence, would likely join the UKGC and partner with the National Health Service. Together, the UKGC and NHS would then see to it that gambling firms in the UK are operating above board, and minimising harm that their platforms can create.
Some may fear that this might all signal the end of the gambling industry in the UK – but that is still highly unlikely. The gambling industry in the UK contributes about £2.3 billion to the GDP, and is said to support over 40,000 jobs. Thus, any attempt at making gambling illegal in the UK would be met with heavy resistance. These new regulations proposed by the Labour Party, strict as they are, are only being designed to protect consumers, and hopefully make the existing industry as fair as it can be.