MPs report calls for review into affiliate sector

A group of UK MPs has called for greater regulation on affiliates, even questioning whether affiliates should be used at all in the gambling industry.

In a report published yesterday, the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (GRH APPG) heavily criticised the Gambling Commission and called for a £2 maximum stake when playing online casino games.

The APPG makes 11 recommendations, including: “The use of Affiliates for marketing purposes should be reviewed as should whether senior staff employed by Affiliate marketing companies should also hold a PML.”

It also recommended that a review is undertaken of the use of bonuses and incentives by gambling operators to ‘determine whether they contribute to harmful gambling’.

Another recommendation was that stake and prize limits should be urgently introduced online. “The report finds no justification for online slot machine style games with staking levels above £2, as it is offline,” the APPG added. However the maximum stake offline at the moment is actually £5 for Category B1 machines found in casinos.

Chair of the group Carolyn Harris MP said: “This report highlights the urgent need for a root and branch review of the regulation of online gambling. Stakes and prize limits online would be a major step forward in reducing the harm caused by the sector.”

This APPG was previously called the FOBTs All-Party Parliamentary Group, which had its only other report criticised by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Hudson.

The current version of the APPG is also funded by groups with strong interests in land-based gaming. As it says on its opening page: “The report was drafted by Interel the Group Secretariat, and the Secretariat is funded by Derek Webb, Bacta, Hippodrome Casino and the Gauselmann Group.”

While All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament, these reports can have real-world implications. Gambling stocks fell yesterday on its publication while the main recommendation of the group’s first report – that FOBT machines should have stakes reduced to £2 – was implemented despite criticisms of the report.

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