As rumours circulate that the Gambling Commission is contemplating following up on a recent think-tank proposal to institute monthly spending limits on gaming, UK operators have bemoaned what they see as the prospect of “draconian” government overreach. Others, outside the industry, are a little edgy about the invasion of individual freedoms. Should this kite be allowed to fly?
Industry-members have been reacting to a proposal forwarded by the Social Market Foundation, which earlier this month called for the creation of a spending “cap” for online gamblers.
A report published by the think-tank earlier this month re-envisioned gambling legislation in line with its present sway towards remote gaming, and suggested that all players be subject to a maximum spend of £100 per month on gambling – a figured based off the amount of expendable income available to the average Brit. To obtain an exemption from this “softcap,” players would be obligated to prove to a new and independent ombudsman that they had access to above-average cash reserves.
Needless to say, in its interview with various operators of the course of the past few weeks, Coinslot has found gambling businesses to feel that such a move would equate to massive government over-reach.
“Were this to come into effect, it would merely be another instance of the Gambling Commission continuing their role of white-knight legislator, put upon this earth to save the vulnerable and stupid British public from the evils and nasty clutches of the gambling industry,” said one gambling stakeholder.
Another labelled the proposition “draconian,” adding that it would “render many businesses immediately unviable.”
Yet another pointed a finger at what he said were the “tenuous numbers” that the SMF study had drawn upon, which suggested that a £125 month cash loss on any gambling activity was unsustainable for the majority of Britons.
“Everyone’s Aunty Mavis spends more than £125 a month down at the bingo,” they remarked. “We think there are all sorts of basic human rights issues being trampled on here. There are no simply no other areas of commerce or life in general where such invasive controls are put in place.”
And this was indeed the point raised during Wednesday’s Westminster Forum when the question was posed as to whether the winner of the next 10 year National Lottery Licence would be subject to the same ‘affordability’ checks for its consumers.
What would that idea do to the Commission’s objective to ‘maximise funds to good causes’?
Meanwhile back on the operational circuit, the interesting point is that the arguments presented focused less on the attack on the online sector, and more on the assault on the consumer’s right to spend their own money. And trust was an underlining theme. One arcade operator noted: “We all know online has its issues and that they need to be dealt with. But it can’t be at everyone else’s expense: once that door of spend is open, it will be used on everything and everyone and land-based arcades will be next.”With a heavy hint of sarcasm, he added: “These people are not happy just controlling the industry, they now want to control the players – who do they think they are?”
Aunty Mavis, it seems, is under threat of investigation: she might have to cut back on the fiver she sends to her nieces and nephews on their birthdays. Unless, of course, the birthday commissioner approves her affordability.