Who: Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Where: United Kingdom
When: 24 October 2016
Law stated as at: 8 November 2016
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS“) has issued a ‘call for evidence’ – effectively a consultation – as part of its review into gaming machines and social responsibility measures to protect against gambling-related harm.
The DCMS has said that it is reviewing these areas with the aim of “striking the right balance between enabling socially responsible growth across the industry and the protection of consumers and communities”. Provisions in the Gambling Act 2005 (the “Act“) dealing with gaming machines may be updated, depending on the Government’s findings.
Through the call for evidence, DCMS is seeking views on the following areas:
- Maximum stakes and prizes
The call for evidence invites gambling operators to propose (or oppose) changes to maximum stakes and/or prizes across different categories of gaming machines, with a view to furthering the DCMS’ objective of balancing continued industry growth with the protection of consumers and communities.
Operators have also been encouraged to provide evidence on the extent to which measures they have introduced on gaming machines have “mitigated harm or improved player protections and mitigated harm to consumers and communities”. This applies to all categories of gaming machines permitted under the Act.
- Allocations of gaming machines
The review is also looking at gaming machine allocations, including the rules in the Act that dictate “where and in what number certain categories of gaming machines can be operated”. DCMS has invited views on what, if any, changes should be made to existing rules. This applies to all licensed premises under the Act.
- Social responsibility measures
DCMS has also asked stakeholders to provide evidence on the impact of current social responsibility measures since 2013 and whether new social responsibility measures are needed within the gambling industry.
The consultation also invites views on “whether existing rules on gambling advertising are appropriate to protect children and vulnerable people from the possible harmful impact of gambling advertising”. This applies to the industry as a whole, including (but not limited to) gaming machines.
Why this matters:
The announcement of DCMS’ call for evidence has received a warm welcome from various industry bodies. In a statement, the Gambling Commission said that the review “offers an excellent opportunity for all those with an interest in gambling to ensure their voices are heard”.
Similarly, ISBA’s Public Affairs Director said “an evidence based review is a welcome development. We believe that allowing gambling ads in live sports programmes makes an important contribution to the funding of free to view TV… Without advertising there would be considerable additional cost to viewers. Balancing ad content and scheduling restrictions against the possible harm [ads] may create needs evidence, not emotion, for the Government to come to a workable conclusion”.
The call for evidence – which can be accessed here – runs for six weeks, closing on 4 December 2016, after which the Government will consider proposals.
The call for evidence gives interested parties an opportunity to contribute to the debate and responses will help to shape any future changes to the law. Industry stakeholders would be well-advised to monitor the progress of this review, as it could result in future changes to the operation of gaming machines and – more broadly – gambling advertising.