A leading UK-based think-tank has proposed a limit on deposits by customers of betting companies, in the latest move in the ongoing debate about gambling harm.
Cross-party body The Social Market Foundation (SMF) has called for what they describe as a ‘soft-cap’ limit of £100 per month on all net deposits, which would be applied to all customer spending. The aim of the cap would be to ensure that gambling activities don’t amount to significant financial harm.
The recommendations come from a wide-ranging report that the SMF hope will become a roadmap of principles to help guide the government as they take on a likely review of gambling regulation and of the 2005 Gambling Act, which was part of the Conservative Party manifesto at the last election.
The report also suggests that stake limits should be fixed at between £1 and £5 for all online slots games, while non-slot content should have added restrictions imposed upon the design of games, although the SMF have accepted that stake limits would not be appropriate in such games.
In addition, the SMF has also proposed the creation of a mandatory kitemark for all licensed betting operators, to be awarded to any operator that has been granted a UK licence. The kitemark would be visible on all relevant gambling sites. The SMF have also called for an end to ‘white label’ schemes.
As well as their main recommendations, the SMF have also backed a review of gambling taxation, stating that the existing remote gambling tax should be based on the extent to which a betting company bases its operations in the UK.
Addressing the issue of UK betting companies operating offshore, the report states that the government should focus on encouraging firms to operate in the UK:
“We advocate a system of inbuilt incentives, most likely in the form of tax rebates on any future increased rates of Remote Gaming Duty and Betting Duty, for those companies which have established a sufficient threshold of their activities onshore.”
The report was co-written by James Noyes, the former adviser to the Labour MP Tom Watson, and in its summary, it states that the SMF believes that the government should go further than examining issues such as stake limits, levies and loot boxes, and should take account of the context of gambling in the 21st century. This should involve, according to the SMF, a fundamental rethink of the relationship between gambling and ongoing technological change.