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Gambling regulation in Great Britain

The Gambling Act 2005 regulates gambling in Great Britain. It is underpinned by three licensing objectives:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

The Gambling Commission oversees and enforces the Act.

Gambling Act review (December 2020 to March 2021)

The Government published a Gambling Act review on 8 December 2020. Its purpose was to examine whether the 2005 Act provided the right “balance of regulation” in the digital age. The review noted concerns that too many people were “still experiencing significant harm” when gambling. There was therefore a need to look at whether “further protections” were needed to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people. At the same time, the review wanted to respect the freedom of adults to choose how they spend their money, and the “value of a responsible industry which protects players, provides jobs and pays taxes”.

A call for evidence on the review closed on 31 March 2021. 

Gambling white paper (April 2023)

There were around 16,000 responses to the Gambling Act review. The Government originally planned to issue its response by the end of 2021, but the gambling white paper was published on 27 April 2023.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, observed that smartphones had “transformed” gambling and the temptation to gamble was “everywhere”. While the “overwhelming majority” of gambling was done safely and within people’s means”, for some it could lead to addiction and “shattered families; lost jobs; foreclosed homes; jail time; suicide”. 

The Secretary of State said the white paper would update gambling rules and regulations to “protect the most vulnerable while also allowing everyone else to enjoy gambling without harm”. It sets out proposals for reform in six areas:

  • online gambling.
  • marketing and advertising.
  • the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources.
  • dispute resolution and consumer redress.
  • children and young adults.
  • land-based gambling.

This briefing discusses the background to the white paper and its proposals, followed by related select committee publications, stakeholder commentary and media articles.

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