Labour will introduce tough online gambling limits if it wins next election, says Tom Watson

Posted On: 
28th February 2019

Labour would introduce limits on the amount of money that can be staked during online gambling sessions, Tom Watson has announced.

A woman plays online roulette.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Shadow Culture Secretary will say that current laws are "completely unfit for the digital age" and would be reformed if his party wins the next election.

In a major speech to the IPPR think tank, Mr Watson - who is also Labour's deputy leader - will point to the fact that gambling in betting shops is heavily regulated, while doing so online at home is not.

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That is leading to a huge rise in gambling addiction, which he will descrobe as "a public health emergency".

Whereas gambling in the offline world is highly regulated, the lack of controls on online gambling is leading to vulnerable consumers suffering huge losses," Mr Watson will say.

"Online gambling companies have a responsibility to protect their customers from placing bets that they cannot afford. But too often, these operators have either neglected the care of their customers or have been too slow in their due diligence.

"We need to see a culture of limits introduced to internet gambling: a system of thresholds placed on the spend, stake and speed of online gambling that will give safeguards to consumers.

"Labour’s new policies announced today will provide a framework for both industry and the regulator to achieve that.”

Mr Watson will say that the failings of the current legislation are leading to "gross excesses, abuse and vulnerable problem gamblers being let down".

He will point to the case of a problem gambler who spent up to £60,000 a day using stolen money and was then made to sign a non-disclosure agreement with a major company to prevent him from informing the Gambling Commission.