Lottery and gaming industry experts are now picking through the details of the UK Government’s policy paper on the latest Gaming Act review published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last week.

The consultation document aims to bring clarity to UK gambling about what the 2005 Gambling Act review will entail and how operations might be affected by the proposed changes to the existing Act.

The ‘Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Terms of Reference and Call for Evidence’ policy paper, proposes a raising of the National Lottery age limit from 16 to 18 years to help protect young people from gambling-related harm, especially as lottery becomes more readily available online.

With a deadline of implementation of October 2021, the government plans to roll out the new age limit quickly, with online lottery sales to 16 and 17 year olds banned from April 2021.

Speaking on the ‘Unpicking the Terms of the UK Gambling Act Review‘ webinar, hosted by SBC this week, Brigid Simmonds, Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), insisted that the gambling industry cannot be held solely accountable for problem gambling and the risks that come with it.

With the Department of Education now looking to introduce the topic to the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) curriculum to educate young people on the risks associated with gambling, Simmonds suggested that other sectors should step up and accept responsibility as well.

Simmonds said: “One person with a problem is too many. We need to take a holistic approach to this. For the last 20 years, the industry has been the sole funders of research, education and treatment, and only very recently has the NHS come in and decided that they’re going to set up new centres.

“I think they’ve set up three and there’s still £200m there for them to set up more. I have visited the one in Leeds and what was absolutely clear from that is that many of those who have a problem with gambling have problems in other areas and this is where it’s got to be embedded in the NHS so that we help those people.”

She continued: “As an industry, we’ve just announced that we’re going to spend another £100m by 2024 on funding the national helpline, on funding GambleAaware and on funding the £10m that we’ve just put into education through YGAM and GamCare and obviously the Department of Education is now involved because it’s now a PSHE requirement that you look at something around the risks.

“However, it can’t be left to just the industry alone so I hope that some of this will be thought through a little further.”

David Clifton, Licensing Expert and a Director at Clifton Davies, brought attention to some of the inconsistencies within the DCMS’ terms of reference, specifically to the ‘duty of care’ remit which was listed as a key caveat in the document.

Clifton explained: “Nobody should now think let’s only just concentrate on the review paper. Look at what was said because there are many other clues in there in the response to the House of Lords.

“In terms of a duty of care, it’s going to be interesting to see how that one develops because ultimately, if that was to come into force, that would really be a threat hanging over not only operators, but also directors in operators. Would that bring in potential criminal liability?

“Underage gambling is interesting too. There is scope for parents and guardians to do more, the government has said. How that gets embodied in any regulatory or legislative requirement, I’m not entirely sure.”

The full webinar is available to watch on the SBC YouTube channel HERE.