Gambling Industries Facing Stricter Regulation

The gambling industry, both online and traditional casinos, is facing a wave of stricter regulations. This crackdown aims to tackle problem gambling, money laundering, and exploitative practices.

UK gambling industry Regulations

It’s an uncertain time for the UK gambling industry and others around the world. Regulation is on its way regardless of who holds the keys to 10 Downing Street. How will this affect the industry, particularly online casinos who seem to be being particularly targeted?

Stricter regulation of the UK gambling industry has been promised for a long time. It was included in the Conservative’s General Election manifesto five years ago. Progress towards stricter regulations has been slow.

There are concerns about whether gamblers can afford the amounts that they are wagering. Stricter affordability checks are gradually be introduced with a pilot scheme by the UK Gambling Commission.

Affordability checks are a controversial subject, whether we’re discussing betting on sport or playing at online casinos. The majority of player do gamble responsibly and if they are asked to produce evidence of their finances, it is not going to go down well at all.

There is the need for reforms that do not make life more difficult for those who don’t have a gambling problem. The fear is that if stricter affordability checks are introduced, it could see disgruntled players taking their custom to the black market.

That’s an unlicensed and unregulated section of the gambling market. The levels of customer protection at such sites is considerably less than at the licensed and regulated site. A drift to the black market will also hit revenues. Not just for gambling companies but the government who will receive less gambling tax revenue.

One proposed change that is due to take place is the introduction of maximum stake limits for online slot games. No such limit exists at present and there are concerns about how much players (particularly younger ones) can lose in a very short period of time.

It has been announced that from September, those players aged 18-24 will only be able to stake a maximum £2 per spin. If aged 25 and over, that goes up to £5. Because of the July 4 General Election it’s uncertain whether the changes will go ahead as planned. There has been some talk of the £2 limit being imposed on all players.

It’s not just in the UK that there are stricter regulations being placed on the gambling industry. In Bulgaria, recent legislation has seen it become illegal to open a casino in a town that has a population that’s below 10,000.

The way in which gambling is advertised is also a controversial area. In the UK there have been steps taken to prevent sports and TV stars who are seen as role models to youngsters advertising gambling products.

Bulgaria has also acted on this with a ban on advertising gambling in the media. The process to do so went through swiftly unlike the situation in the UK. Only the state lottery can be advertised on social media. That’s because it helps to raise funds for Bulgarian sport.

The levels of gambling harm in the UK are remaining at a low level. The most at-risk group is the 18-24 age group, hence the attention of regulators towards them.

In Estonia, a new study by Kantor Emor has revealed that 10% (far higher than in the UK) of the population are seeing their life affected by gambling. Advertising of gambling products is seen as the main reason with 76% of the general public having been targeted by gambling-related advertisements.

4% of those aged between 11 and 16 had gambled at least once in the past week, the study revealed.

Action against the way in which gambling is advertised is expected in Estonia. More in the UK cannot be ruled out and could well be the focus of the newly-elected government.

Action is also being taken in Brazil where gambling is growing in popularity. The offering of bonuses by sites is being banned. These are seen as simply offering incentives to join a gambling site which in turn may lead to some harm being suffered. In the UK, similar action is possible with VIP schemes being targeted.

Various player incentives, such as welcome bonuses from online casinos and other gambling sites remain popular in the UK. It is accepted though that the 2005 Gambling Act does need to be reformed. The legislation is aimed primarily at the analogue rather then the digital age.

The future legislation must be carried out in a fair and not too intrusive manner. If that isn’t the case then the revenues of online sites is likely to be affected as players seek to avoid being targeted by regulation.

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