At the end of last year, the Government introduced the Betting Bill. The aim of the bill is to regulate and tax activities relating to sports betting in the UK. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, described her government’s decision to bring forward the bill as a “historic step” that would “level the playing field” between sports bettors and bookmakers. In practice, the bill targets problem gambling, not sports betting. The Government has the power to compulsorily acquire the ownership of problem gambling websites and apps. The website of bookmaker Paddy Power is one example of a website that could potentially be seized under the bill.
The Betting Bill has been broadly welcomed by stakeholders. The Gambling Commission said that it was “pleased that Parliament is looking to address the issue of problem gambling”, while the British Bookmakers’ Federation noted that the bill would provide “greater protection” for consumers and workers. However, there have also been fears that the bill will be harmful to the wider economy. According to the bookmakers, the bill could lead to job losses, as well as increased operating costs for business.
In this article, we will assess the pros and cons of the Betting Bill. Firstly, let’s take a quick look at how the bill currently stands.
What Is the Current Status of the Bill?
As mentioned above, the Betting Bill was first introduced to Parliament by the Government last year. It is currently undergoing its second reading in the House of Commons and is widely expected to be passed into law. If given Royal Assent by the Queen, the bill will become law and impose a number of duties and restrictions on problem gambling. These include the creation of a new gambling commission with the power to publish reviews of problem gambling, the outlawing of credit and equity-based gambling promotions, and the imposition of a social responsibility duty on gambling businesses.
The first phase of the bill, which relates to online sportsbooks, was given Royal Assent in November last year. This means that the bill is now law, but only applies to online sportsbooks. The second phase of the bill, which relates to traditional sportsbooks, was given Royal Assent in April this year. This phase of the bill will come into force on November 1st, 2020. Traditional sportsbooks are live betting terminals (“black-jackets”) used to place bets on sports events. They can only be used to place bets on sporting events that are available for immediate play. Therefore, the second phase of the bill will only apply to newly installed or newly activated traditional sportsbooks. Allowing for some leeway, this would suggest that around 2021 the bill will fully come into force.
Why Is the Bill Regulating Online Sports Betting?
The main reason for the bill’s oversight of online sports betting is that it is a form of gambling that the Government perceives as being problematic. The Government has determined that online sports betting is sufficiently different from other forms of gambling to merit specific regulation. In particular, the Government is concerned about the potential for problem gambling among young people. It also points to problems with regard to money laundering and tax evasion that it says are associated with online sports betting.
In the United Kingdom, the majority of people gamble on a regular basis. The most popular form of gambling is probably guessing games, such as Scrabble and Monopoly. These are considered to be social activities, and as such are not governed by the same rules as other forms of gambling. The majority of people gamble on a non-profit basis, with the intention of spending their winnings on leisure activities. Therefore, although there may be some unethical or unlawful behavior associated with gambling, it is predominantly considered to be a harmless activity.
What Types Of Betting Do Young People Prefer?
The main appeal of online betting is that it is available 24/7. This, combined with the fact that all transactions can take place anonymously, makes it a popular option for those who want to gamble when others aren’t available or don’t want to risk being detected by their parents. As a result, many betting sites cater to this audience, with flashy designs and entertainment values built into the experience. These sites are more likely to appear in the top-10 lists of most visited sites for children. They target younger audiences with games like Pictionary and hangman, which have simple rules and are easy to play. The sites provide an immersive experience, with live chat rooms, polls, and articles about current events and games.
How Does The Bill Address The Issue Of Problem Gambling?
One of the main aims of the bill is to tackle the issue of problem gambling. It does this via a new independent body, the Gambling Commission. The commission will be responsible for monitoring and regulating the gambling industry in the UK. It will also have the power to carry out random surveys among UK adults, which will form a baseline for understanding the prevalence of problem gambling. The commission will also review the industry’s self-regulation measures (such as responsible gambling policies and codes of practice), assess the effectiveness of current laws, and advise on possible legislative changes.
Under the bill, the responsibility for assessing someone’s level of problem gambling will be taken away from statutory health agencies and will be transferred to the Gambling Commission. This change will make it easier for people to get help if they are experiencing problems with gambling. It also creates an opportunity for people to get educated about the issue and the various forms of help that are available. The bill also includes a provision that would allow the Gambling Commission to set up a telephone number that problem gamblers can call for free counselling and information on how to stop gambling or how to manage their addiction. In addition, the bill creates a fund to support problem gambling sufferers, with the Government promising to provide £5m for this purpose.
Although the bill will make a significant difference for those who want to get help with gambling addiction, it is far from a perfect solution. Bookmakers fear that the bill will lead to further increases in operating costs, with the International Game Developers Association estimating that the bill could lead to an increase of up to 1000% in development and operation costs. The bill also does not address the issue of illegal gambling, which the bookmakers want to see tackled via a separate law. Finally, some stakeholders are concerned that the bill will harm the independent gambling press, which they feel is necessary for holding the gambling industry accountable.
What Will Be The Long-Term Impacts Of The Bill?
The long-term affects of the bill are difficult to predict, as there are so many moving parts. What is clear is that the bill heralds the creation of a new structure for regulating gambling in the UK. It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts to this change and what future trends emerge in the wake of the bill.