lawyers in Swanage who have recovered more than £5 million from betting companies for problem gamblers fear newly proposed industry reforms may not go far enough.
Ellis Jones Solicitors has raised questions about how the shake-up of gambling announced in a long-awaited government white paper will work in practice.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has announced a consultation into gambling laws, with the aim of measures coming into force by summer 2024.
Ellis Jones will be lodging its comments about the reforms after studying the white paper in detail.
Partner Paul Kanolik said: “This white paper has been a long time coming.
“While some measures are welcome, it is important that the final provisions of the new legislation go far enough to protect vulnerable people and have a meaningful impact.
“For example, while the white paper indicates a welcome move towards greater protection for vulnerable individuals, through tighter and more prescriptive regulation, there is still uncertainty about what the proposed measures will actually look like in practice and when they will be implemented.
“The proposed introduction of a gambling ombudsman should also bring about increased accountability for operators, but it is important that any such body is truly impartial and has the necessary expertise and resources to adjudicate effectively.”
Paul added: “This is the first major reform of gambling in nearly 20 years, during which time the industry, technology and habits have changed enormously, especially with the development of mobile technology. It is important that the proposals do not get watered down and that the new legislation has teeth in order to be fit for purpose.”
The white paper was published following a lengthy review into gambling laws and the gambling industry. It was first announced in 2020 following concerns about the increasing obsolescence of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Proposed measures in the white paper include:
- New obligations for operators to complete checks
- A cross-operator harm prevention system
- Measures to reduce the risk from online slot machine style games
- Changes to targeted marketing and rewards
- More powers for Gambling Commission
- Statutory levy for gambling operators
- A new gambling ombudsman
Ellis Jones’ betting disputes team specialises in dealing with gambling claims and complaints to recover money clients have lost as a result of the failings of betting operators.
It has successfully recovered more than £5 million for clients in the last few years and is continuing to pursue court claims and complaints on behalf of clients.
In a landmark case in 2019 the firm reclaimed more than £100,000 for a client from a high street bookmaker who had failed to protect him as a vulnerable gambler.
Paul added: “We would recommend that anyone who may be suffering from gambling-related harm seeks appropriate help and support. This may involve approaching relevant medical professionals or support organisations, as well as implementing some of the various tools available to reduce such harm.”