Monday 4 November 2019 12:26 pm

Gambling stocks tumble as MPs call for online casino stake limit

Shares in major gambling firms fell today after a group of MPs issued a report calling for the introduction of £2 stake limits for online casinos.

GVC shares fell nine per cent to 816p, William Hill shares dropped seven per cent to 187p, 888 Holdings shares fell nearly five per cent to 171p and Rank Group shares fell 4.5 per cent to 780p.

The gambling related harm all-party parliamentary group (APPG) today called for stake and deposit limits to be introduced on online gambling products.

The interim report follows the introduction of stake limits for fixed-odds betting terminals in betting shops last year, where the maximum stake was cut from £100 to £2.

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It said: “the government has accepted the principle that harm can be reduced by reducing staking levels and it is clear that stake and deposit limits are needed in the online world to limit harm.”

The report argued for the introduction of a £2 limit, in line with land based venues.

The MPs called for the government to “urgently introduce new gambling legislation with a focus on harm prevention”.

It also called for a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling.

The report also slammed regulator the Gambling Commission which the MPs said was “not fit for purpose and called for it to “urgently improve its standards in the area of online gambling”.

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The Gambling Commission said it was disappointed the report had been released before it had provided evidence to MPs.

“The report does not reflect our considerable action and progress on most of the areas of concern set out in the report and we look forward to being given the chance to outline that work to the APPG,” a Gambling Commission spokesperson said.

The APPG’s chair, Labour MP Carolyn Harris, said: “Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector. It is not at all clear why the Gambling Commission is not looking at this as a matter of urgency. It is an abdication of its responsibility as a regulator.”

Vice-chair, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, said: “It is outrageous that there are not stake limits online, that gamblers are still able to gamble using credit cards online and that operators are able to continue to offer inducements to the vulnerable without proper sanction.”

A DCMS spokesperson said: “We are absolutely committed to protecting vulnerable people from the risks of gambling related harm online. 

“That’s why we recently secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will see £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers, and a ten-fold increase in funding towards research, education and treatment to help ensure people gamble safely. 

“In the past year, we have also introduced a wave of tougher measures to protect vulnerable people, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling, and expanding national specialist support through the NHS long term plan”.