In 2023, the UK government released the 2005 Gambling Act review white paper, a 260-page document outlining updates for the industry. The focus was on bringing the industry into the digital age, with many of the policies based on the public’s 24/7 internet and smartphone access. One significant update was allowing casinos of all sizes to offer sports betting on their premises. Previously, only casinos licensed under the 2005 Gambling Act could offer sports betting.

The white paper also emphasized player protection measures for land-based venues. This included a ban on under-18s playing on category D slot machines and consultation options for contactless payments, as land-based premises have largely remained cash-based.

The Gambling Commission began consultations for the white paper’s suggestions, with the executive director for research and policy stating that there would be little room for addressing policies not included in the white paper over the next few years. The Commission also considered changing its age verification slogan from “Think 21” to “Think 25” for land-based venues.

Industry experts reacted positively to the white paper’s policies. Simon Thomas, executive chairman of the Hippodrome Casino, praised the consultation on contactless payments at land-based machines but expressed concern over the lack of detail on the mandatory statutory levy outlined in the document.

Dan Waugh, a partner at strategic advisory business Regulus Partners, noted that there is still a long way to go before all the white paper’s policies are implemented. He also raised concerns about the Commission’s involvement, citing its reputation in handling consultations.

Overall, the release of the white paper and the subsequent consultations set the stage for significant changes in the UK’s gambling industry, both online and in land-based venues. The industry was largely supportive of the measures outlined in the white paper but also highlighted areas of concern, such as the lack of detail on certain policies and potential controversies surrounding consultations.

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