Road to ICE 2024: White paper opens up opportunities for land-based casinos

In April 2023, the UK government finally released the long-awaited 2005 Gambling Act review white paper. The 260-page document outlined critical updates for the industry, focusing on bringing it into the digital age.

As such, many of the policies in the white paper were based on the public now having 24/7 internet and smartphone access. But it also contained a number of alterations for land-based venues, such as permitting casinos to offer sports betting at their premises.

Specifically, the government said it would allow “casinos of all sizes” to offer sports betting on their premises. Previously, only casinos licensed under the 2005 Gambling Act could offer sports betting.

The white paper put forward policies that would enhance player protection in land-based venues

Land-based stipulations protect players

Generally, the land-based specifications in the white paper centred on player protection measures. This was a large part of the motivation to create the white paper, with Lucy Frazer, the secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pledging that the white paper would provide protections for vulnerable groups.

The white paper outlined a ban on under-18s playing on category D slot machines, also known as fruit machines. DCMS will also work in conjunction with the GB Gambling Commission to devise consultation options for contactless payments. This is because land-based premises have largely remained cash-based.

The Commission has instigated its consultation process for the white paper’s suggestions. The first round of consultations began in July and ended in October, while the second round began in November and will end in February.

After the white paper’s publication, Tim Miller, executive director for research and policy at the Commission said there will be “very little space” for the Commission to address policies not included in the white paper over the next few years.

The Commission will also contemplate changing its age verification slogan from “Think 21” to “Think 25” for land-based venues.

Reaction from land-based industry fairly positive

Speaking to a number of industry experts, iGB heard a largely positive response from the land-based industry in reference to the white paper’s policies.

Simon Thomas, executive chairman of the Hippodrome Casino praised the proposed consultation on contactless payments at land-based machines

Simon Thomas, executive chairman of the Hippodrome Casino praised the white paper’s publication after “a two-and-a-half-year wait”. He also lauded DCMS’ consultation on contactless payments at land-based machines.

However, he expressed concern over the lack of detail on the mandatory statutory levy outlined in the document.

“We would like more detail on the imposed levy,” he said. “So in terms of how much it’s going to be, taking into account that our tax rates and fixed costs are materially higher. Some idea of how the money will be used and allocated.”

Dan Waugh, partner at strategic advisory business Regulus Partners said there’s a long way to go before all the white paper’s policies are implemented. And the Commission’s involvement could be controversial, he continued, as it has a “reputation” as to how it handles consultations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *