James Noyes’s proposals for reforming key aspects of Great Britain’s gambling industry have received major coverage. They show how sensitive the issues are for all stakeholders and why the industry must engage in a constructive manner.
By Jake Pollard
James Noyes’s proposals for reforming key aspects of the UK gambling industry are that rare thing when it comes to discussing those topics, in that they are moderate and well-reasoned. With the Gambling Act review set to take place during the course of this parliament, they are also timely.
Noyes is Senior Fellow at the Social Market Foundation thinktank and a former advisor to the former Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson. His proposals focus on five key areas of reform: gambling licences, content, affordability, tax and regulatory framework.
Of those, the topic that has attracted most coverage has been gambling affordability. The report calls for a soft cap of £100 per month on deposits, at which point affordability checks would be carried out by independent third-party providers that would assess whether players could safely afford to go over that level of spending.
The Betting and Gaming Council came out strongly against the proposal (but supported the calls for overall reform of the Gambling Act). The BGC said it was “an arbitrary and random low cap on spending and can think of no other area of the economy where the government determines how much an individual can spend”.
Media coverage also centred on the measure, saying the report called for “gamblers to prove they can afford losses”. In fact, Noyes tells iGB, the call is “for a soft cap, not a hard cap, on spending.
“Others have talked about fixed limits, but it’s about having a soft threshold and then affordability checks if certain criteria are met”.
If Noyes wasn’t exactly disappointed with how the proposal was portrayed, he does lament the fact that the headlines were all about “thinktank recommends capping play”.
Instead he says, the detail is that when players get close to losing £100, “that is the point when checks come in and source of income, affordability, whether patterns of harm or unsafe play are present, can all be assessed”.
Complex and technical
The topic points to the febrile atmosphere currently surrounding the GB gambling sector, with the issue of regulation often quickly falling into binary arguments about individual freedom vs. the nanny state.
It could be that…