New data has revealed nearly two thirds of punters (65 per cent) believe there is a large or substantial risk that setting limits on the amount of money spent on betting would drive more people to the unsafe, unregulated black market online.
The latest polling by YouGov found almost 56 per cent of punters thought the Government should not set limits on how much money they could bet.
Commenting on the findings, Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) CEO Michael Dugher said the results show “how outraged punters will be if the Government listens to anti-gambling prohibitionists who want to interfere in people’s privacy and freedom of choice, by demanding personal documentation before you can have a bet, and by banning things”.
“People think politicians live on a different planet as it is. Telling them what they can and cannot do with their own time and their own money isn’t going to help fix that perception”, he explained.
The news comes as the chairman of the Gambling Commission Marcus Boyle suggests that the watchdog would be pushing for harsher measures to be placed on gambling operators.
“We will not tolerate an attitude of lowest possible compliance being sufficient”, Boyle wrote in The Times, adding that licences will be withdrawn where gambling standards are not met”.
“Operators can expect to see cumulative sanction packages with not only increased financial penalties but also a suite of sanctions aimed at changing behaviour, including fines being based on a percentage of customer takings, short or long-term suspensions and attaching significant conditions to licences”, he said.
Boyle also argued for a more general push towards data on gambling patterns, allowing the watchdog to have a better understanding of how people gamble, the number of problem gamblers and the level of harm being suffered.
“We plan to invest more in our data sources and will start to research the links between gambling and suicide”, the chairman said.
Working with leading operators, Boyle said the commission have launched a best practice study into the algorithms that can be used to spot problem gamblers. Going one step further, Boyle said: “I would like also to introduce a new mandatory, independent audit of standards and accreditation for those achieving the highest levels”.
Commenting on talk of algorithms, a spokesperson for the BGC, said: “The BGC was created in 2019 as the new standards body for betting and gaming and we are determined to raise standards and share best practice across the industry.
“Our initiatives have included a whistle to whistle ban on advertising, promoting safer gambling tools like deposit limits and time-outs, investing more in research education and treatment, stronger protections for younger people, tough new rules on VIP schemes and implementing a credit card ban.
“Our members already use technology including algorithms to identify those at risk of harm and this work will be further strengthened through the recent Gambling Commission guidance on standardising markers of harm which come into effect in September this year, which BGC members will implement.
“In November 2019, the industry published and adopted a minimum set of markers of harm and interventions to identify and interact with at risk customers as part of our industry-wide Safer Gambling Commitments.
“We are encouraged by the latest figures from the Gambling Commission that showed the rate of problem gambling in the UK was 0.2 per cent of the population – down from 0.4 per cent the year previous.”
The government is expected to lay out plans for a review of current regulations in a White Paper, which is expected this summer.