Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has outlined a gambling reform plan that includes the institution of a new watchdog for the British gaming and wagering industry.
Speaking at the Demos thinktank group on Tuesday, Watson called for greater consumer protection and an end to the “predatory” marketing strategies of UK betting operators.
The focal point of Labour’s plan is a push to draft new legislation that better addresses issues around problem gambling.
The party has already formulated several policies to that end, including a proposed ban on credit card betting at UK online casinos and bookmaker sites.
Watson also wants to rewrite the rules around online gambling promotions after a string of high-profile scandals.
“I cannot think of a single other type of transactional arrangement for goods or financial services that would allow this type of situation: unclear terms and conditions, a lack of transparency, a lack of framework – and fuelled by predatory bonus offers,” he said.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has dished out millions of pounds in financial penalties over the past two years, but Labour believes the regulator is not doing enough to improve the culture of the industry.
Watson and his colleagues wish to form an ombudsman that would operate in tandem with the UKGC and the National Health Service (NHS) to create a better platform for the prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.
Among other things, the ombudsman would have the power to serve financial penalties to any gambling operator that is deemed to have neglected its duty of care to customers.
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