British online betting group, Entain, will impose limits for players most at risk of gambling themselves into financial difficulties, it said Wednesday, in the face of mounting pressure from parliament.
The company said in a statement that it was using a “technology-led player protection initiative” that will seek “to identify UK customers at greatest risk of potential financial problems and proactively implement staking limits.”
The group claims to be the first leading UK betting operator to roll out such a technology-led “player protection” scheme, which it aims to have online by the summer.
The British company acknowledged online betting was the subject of “intense debate in the UK over how best to protect those at risk without limiting the enjoyment of the vast majority.”
The government launched a consultation on the subject earlier this year, which ends on Wednesday.
It is expected to result in legislative reform, including changes to the 2005 Gambling Act that is deemed by many to be outdated in the current era where online gambling has supplanted casinos and betting shops.
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Addiction is a significant problem in Britain, with 0.8 percent of adults, or about 430,000 people, considered to be “problem gamblers”, according to a study published by the parliamentary commission on gambling.
The pandemic and months of lockdown have worsened the situation for many housebound gamers, many of whom have had constant access to online betting sites.
Gambling addiction can lead to health problems, relationship and family difficulties, over-indebtedness and in the most serious cases, can lead to crime or suicide, according to a recent report.
Although it welcomed the the anticipated changes to the betting law, the company could find their revenues cut.
“If strict affordability checks to protect problem gamblers are brought in across the board, they could considerably disrupt earnings given that the UK market represents a sizeable chunk of income,” Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told AFP.
However, the big online betting groups are “revving up operations” in the United States, which could insulate them from less favourable conditions in Britain, she added.
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