Fast Forward’s response to the UK government’s white paper on gambling

May 8, 2023

Fast Forward welcomes the UK government’s recent white paper on gambling reform. It is a positive step in the process of updating existing laws which are now well overdue.

We’ve taken some time to digest the white paper, and are happy to see that a statutory levy has been included. This has the potential to make a big difference in the provision of research, education, and treatment around gambling harms. We also welcome the inclusion of stake limits for online slots games, and a review process for online gambling products with the power to remove product features that exacerbate risk.

However, we are disappointed to see that the government has decided not to pursue legislative options to tackle the risk of harm from loot boxes and other gambling-like features in video games. Research suggests that current industry-led protections are inconsistent and leave significant gaps in provision. We are eager to hear how the proposed “enhanced industry-led protections” will avoid these pitfalls.

Plans in other areas of work are still in the early stages, and it remains to be seen how they are shaped by a number of consultations and trials as outlined in the Key Policy Proposals.

Gambling adverts

Gambling advertising in particular is of concern, given its disproportionate impact on young people and those already experiencing harm. Research suggests that current industry-led efforts are not sufficient to protect young people from the impact of gambling ads, and the reforms outlined in the white paper are limited and remain largely industry-led. It is disappointing that the white paper has not gone further, such as a full ban on gambling sponsorship in sport.

However, we are pleased that the Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority will work together to tackle content marketing. This form of marketing offers a ‘back door’ to gambling companies looking to attract younger customers via social media.

We hope that the planned consultations will be as timely as possible, and conducted with a public health approach firmly in mind.

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