UK Gambling rumors: VIP schemes banned & online slots stakes cut to £2

The official review will allegedly ban ‘VIP’ schemes, which hand out cash bonuses to losers, and stakes on online slot games will be cut to £2.

A new gambling consumer ombudsman and a ban on sports shirt sponsorship are set to be backed by ministers as part of a major shake-up of betting laws.

Sources revealed the areas where there is broad agreement on curbs. One said: ‘Shirt sponsorship is pretty much nailed on.’

An official review will also ban ‘VIP’ schemes, which hand out cash bonuses and rewards to big losers, according to sources.

In addition, stakes on online slot games will be cut to £2 in line with gaming machines in high street bookmakers.

From 31 October, all UK-licensed online bookmakers will be required to establish the affordability and sustainability of VIP customers’ gambling spend and to assess whether there is evidence of gambling-related harm or heightened risk of harm.

Licensees must also ensure that they have up to date evidence relating to identity, occupation and source of funds, with this information subject to ongoing review alongside gambling harm checks.

The most significant change will see operators appoint a senior executive who holds a personal management licence (PMLs) to oversee their respective scheme, making individuals personally accountable.

“We have introduced these new rules to stamp out malpractice in the management of ‘VIP’ customers and to make gambling safer. Our enforcement work has identified too many cases of misconduct in the management of VIP schemes and this is the last chance for operators to show they can operate such schemes appropriately,” said Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur.

“We understand that the number of customers signed up to ‘VIP’ schemes has already reduced by 70% since we challenged the industry to get its house in order, last year. Whilst that is a sign of the positive impact our innovative approach to collaborative working can have, these new rules are designed to ensure progress continues to be made to protect vulnerable customers.”

Operators can be in no doubt about our expectations. If significant improvements are not made, we will have no choice but to take further action and ban such schemes,” McArthur added.

“These new rules are part of the Commission’s comprehensive programme of tougher enforcement and compliance activity which has also seen the introduction of strengthened protections around online age and ID verification, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards.”

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