Labour to push for stricter online gambling regulations

Deputy leader Tom Watson to call for major overhaul of law to stop ‘gross excesses’

Labour is to propose an overhaul of online gambling law, including new restrictions on how much customers can bet and a system of checks to stop people placing wagers they cannot afford.

The deputy leader, Tom Watson, will say on Thursday that a series of high-profile scandals have proved that regulations governing online casinos and bookmakers are inadequate, leading to “gross excesses, abuse and vulnerable problem-gamblers being let down”.

Watson, who has already proposed a series of measures cracking down on the wider gambling industry, will describe the Gambling Act 2005, passed under Tony Blair’s government, as “unfit for the digital age”.

“Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses,” he will say.

“Online gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their customers from placing bets that they cannot afford.”

The most eye-catching proposal would involve capping the amount that people can bet online and the speed at which they can do so.

Watson, who is the shadow secretary for digital, culture, media and sport, will highlight the government’s recent move to slash the maximum allowable stake on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2.

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