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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Limit online bets to maximum of £2, say gambling reformers

Gamblers could be limited to a maximum £2 bet online and £100 spending a month as more than 160 MPs and peers united to demand “bold” government reforms to curb betting.

In a letter to The Telegraph, the MPs and peers including Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, Lord Grade, an ex-BBC chairman, and 18 bishops warned that more than 55,000 children aged 11 to 16 were now gambling addicts.

They said analysis by Public Health England (PHE) suggested the social and economic cost of gambling was at least £1.27 billion a year, ranging from financial problems such as bankruptcy and unemployment to family breakdown and health harms.

In the run-up to the Government’s white paper on gambling, due in the New Year, the MPs and peers wrote: “We are calling on the Prime Minister to be bold in delivering the gambling reforms needed to prevent harm across the country.

“It is time for the Government to live up to the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto commitment to a review of gambling laws, levelling up, social justice and a better future for us all.”

Spending limit of £100 a month

Among the proposals on the table, backed by MPs and peers from all-party groups campaigning for gambling reform in both houses, are measures to curb the scale of betting. 

They would see online limits brought in line with those in force in high streets, with gambling firms that failed to meet them or police them adequately at risk of losing their licences.

The maximum bet would be £2, tied to a spending limit of £100 a month, after which companies would have to apply strict affordability tests to the gambler to ensure they did not spend beyond their means.

Ministers are also looking to ban bookies’ “VIP” schemes for gamblers, which MPs and peers have described as “immoral”. Gambling giants use a tactic of assigning an individual to privately manage “VIP” clients, offering a one-to-one service with bonuses and financial inducements to encourage betting.

Ministers are also considering stricter controls on gambling advertising, which would include a ban on logos on football shirts and stadia hoardings.

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