Online and cashless gambling regulations need to be tightened dramatically, according to a group set up by East Ayrshire Council.

The authority's Gambling Harms Working Group will present a recommended response to a UK government consultation at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.

The consultation on gambling reform sets out plans for developing regulation and protections against ‘gambling related harm’.

The report to council adds that the process seeks to ‘minimise disruption for those who gamble with no ill effects’.

The white paper, titled ‘High Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age’, looks at a range of issues including: online protections; marketing and advertising; the Gambling Commission’s powers and resources; children and young adults; and, land-based gambling.

It also sets out measures to ‘protect those at risk of addiction and unaffordable losses, to ensure that children and young adults are protected and to prevent gambling harm’.

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The consultation also proposes a range of limits and protections. East Ayrshire Council will be asked to approve a response that largely backs the strictest options and safeguards.

This includes:

  • A £2 maximum stake limit for online slot games
  • A £20 maximum stake for gaming machines using cashless payments
  • Increase in licence fee for gambling premises
  • further protection in relation to age verification and the crediting of funds to online accounts.
  • a review of automated online gambling advertising on mobile devices and computers
  • Mandatory warnings on online and cashless gaming machines
  • Age limits for ‘cash out’ slot machines

The report states: “This minimises potential financial harm as far as reasonably possible and provides a psychological marker for the protection of consumers.

“We do not consider land-based gambling as the main issue in respect of problem gambling and gambling harm.

“We are more concerned with unrestricted and unregulated online gambling and the implications for vulnerable groups i.e. children and young people.”

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The report recommends ‘a mandatory statement on gambling webpages explaining that operator profits are generated by taking in more money from consumers in bets than is paid out in winnings and that the system is maintained through the use of mathematical and statistical strategies.

“This would serve as a reminder to consumers that they are more likely to lose.

“Card account verification for each transaction should be required if direct cashless payments are permitted on gaming machines.

“There should be both voluntary and mandatory limits  on gaming machines accepting direct cashless payments and a minimum 24hr ‘cooling off’ period if these are exceeded.”

It recommends that the person gambling should be told what their ratio of losses to wins are.

East Ayrshire Council will consider whether to approve the draft response at a full council meeting on Thursday.