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Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson to Introduce a New Gambling Ombudsman to Protect UK Citizens

- June 19, 2019 By Oliver Young -

Being one of the anti-gambling leaders, Labour Deputy Tom Watson has been trying to establish boundaries in the gambling industry for years, but operators don’t seem to listen. As a consequence, a new gambling ombudsman is about to be established in the UK as requested by the Labour party’s Deputy.

He first mentioned the mandatory levy when he saw the GambleAware’s report and when he realized that with the voluntary levy as it is now, the industry failed to meet the funding target. Watson underlined that the current voluntary levy has allowed plenty of operators to contribute nothing towards their civic duties.

Tom Watson proposes the establishment of a new gambling ombudsman to assist the UKGC and NHS.

Tom Watson proposes the establishment of a new gambling ombudsman to assist the UKGC and NHS.

A New Ombudsman

The Deputy Labour Watson has made several moves in the past few months on gambling in the UK, the most recent one being asking the UK Gambling Commission to review the licenses of all online casinos in the UK which were licensed after 2014.

The Labour party also proposed a brand new Gambling Act last September, asking for the focus to be shifted entirely on protecting the UK citizens.

Then, the party insisted that operators should not sponsor football clubs, and suggested a complete sponsorship ban. The credit card gambling ban was also suggested, and the UK Gambling Commission was said to be considering it.

All of this led to the idea of establishing a new ombudsman. As Watson said, the ombudsman was necessary to support the UK Gambling Commission as the national gambling regulator and assist NHS and other UK health stakeholders with the treatment of problem gamblers and thorough research on gambling-related harms.

Stating that the current frameworks have in many ways failed UK players, allowing online gambling operators to carry out dangerous and dirty deals that were only making problem gamblers gambling more, Watson said that further directives must be introduced.

The Deputy is expected to suggest further consumer reforms, as currently, only penalties on licensed operators can be imposed, but players are not compensated in any way. The UK Gambling Commission is planned to continue overseeing operator policies and standards, but the ombudsman will be settling consumer disputes. In fact, the ombudsman will also impose penalties to any operator which failed to prevent problem gambling.

Concluding his statement, Watson said that he couldn’t think of a single other type of transactions for financial services or goods that would allow all of this: a lack of framework, unclear T&C, lack of transparency and predatory bonus offers.

The UK Gambling Commission to Consider the Ombudsman

The UK gambling regulator seems to agree with Deputy Watson, stating that the UKGC’s statutory role was to provide advice to government on gambling, including its regulation and effects. The UKGC expects operators to treat consumers fairly, and when they fail, the regulator puts them right. Players also have the right to refer disputes to an approved ADR provider. In fact, the UKGC has introduced new standards on gambling operators and ADR providers in order to improve the way they handle individual players’ complaints. Finishing the statement, the regulator added that the UKGC will continue to drive up standards and will consider Watson’s suggestion for a new ombudsman.

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