Poll: 75% of Gamblers Back Measures to Help Protect Online Punters

  • Seven out of 10 gamblers don't think operators are serious about responsible gambling
  • One in five gamblers have placed a bet online in the last two years that they couldn't afford
  • Deputy Labour leader has called for new gambling laws that "fit the digital age"
Customer satisfaction survey
Seven out of 10 gamblers don’t think online operators are serious about responsible gambling.

Bookmakers’ seriousness doubted

A new survey has found that seven out of 10 gamblers don’t think bookmakers are serious about responsible gambling procedures.

The poll conducted by YouGov, a UK-based online market research and data analytics firm, also found that one in five punters had placed a bet online in the last two years that they couldn’t afford, the Mirror reports. Not only that, but 75% of those surveyed said that they back proposed initiatives designed to protect online gamblers.

Earlier this week, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) called for a mandatory levy to help fund gambling addiction services. According to the report, the BMJ highlighted that the economic cost of the gambling problem was being “severely understated.” In addition, the report’s authors noted there was a strong link between problem gambling and suicide rates.

Tom Watson, the deputy Labour party leader, has also called for an overhaul of current UK gambling laws. In March, he was reported as saying that the 2005 Gambling Act is “analog legislation failing to meet the needs of the digital age,” since it doesn’t take into account online gambling.

More recently, Watson said:

“It’s no wonder that the public don’t trust gambling companies to change when week after week we hear about vulnerable problem gamblers being bombarded by advertising and special offers. Online gambling has exploded since the last gambling act with the products way outstripping regulation.”

Because of this, he’s calling for a new gambling act that is “fit for the digital age” and has limits on what people can lose when they place a bet online.

Support for limits on FOBTs

New restrictions on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) have also received a significant amount of support, according to the survey, with 85% in favor of the new reduction rules.

The issue of FOBTs has been contentious in recent years. The maximum bet on the machines, which have been named the “crack cocaine” of the gambling world, was finally lowered to £2 ($2.50) from £100 ($128) in April.

Previously, it was reported that the cut would be delayed until October 2019. However, following a report that some gamblers were losing as much as £18,000 ($23,000) an hour, the UK government decided to bring the date forward in the best interests of gamblers.

Gambling operators were not happy with the move. Prior to the decision to reduce the betting amount, William Hill said January that it may have to close 40% of its betting shops. Store revenues were projected to fall by 45% as a result of the cut to FOBT stakes.

After the YouGov survey, it remains to be seen if the UK government will act on the figures to bring gambling laws up-to-date or whether it will be put to one side for another day. With online gambling becoming a frequent sight in most people’s lives, whether through TV ads, gambling advertising during sporting events, or apps on their smartphones, the industry has quickly outpaced existing regulations.

Maybe now it’s time for those to be updated.