With 50% of Britons placing at least one bet every month, the government is looking at making some changes
Anyone that was looking to invest in the last 10 to 15 years or so, shares in online gambling companies were among the best opportunities going. The UK gambling industry, as a whole, has been booming for a very long time, with some of the latest figures showing that it generates more than £5 billion in revenue every year and annual tax receipts of over £2 billion.
The 2005 Gambling Act gave operators a chance to make some serious money from UK players and they sure have taken advantage. You don’t have to look too far to find at least a casino or bookmaker advertising their platforms, from TV and the radio, to social media and other web platforms.
It’s no coincidence that around half of all Brits gamble at least once a month.
But that may be about to change. While the UK gambling industry remains a world leader, the media and MPs have been voicing their concern about the growing numbers, calling for tighter regulations and getting a firmer grasp on social issues.
2020 could be the year that everything changes. But what can be expected and will they have any impact?
Credit Card Ban
This was the first big change that online casinos and operators had to deal with. As of April, 2020, UK players are no longer able to use their credit cards to fund their online casino accounts.
It was estimated that more than 10% of every deposit on a gambling site was made via a credit card. And of course, gambling with credit is essentially playing with funds that aren’t actually yours, potentially meaning that people would potentially play with more than they could afford to use.
The UK Gambling Commision (UKGC) saw this as a key area to address and took swift action. In terms of impact, players can still use their debit cards to play, but this only allows people to use their own money to play, making them think twice about whether they want to lose it.
Reduced Maximum Stakes
This is another example of action already taken by the UK government. In 2019, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals had to reduce their maximum bet from £100 to just £2. This is a huge decrease and just goes to show how far the government is willing to go.
Generally speaking, most players will wager less than £2 on an online slot machine anyway. However, high rollers can easily spend hundreds of pounds on slot machines across several sites, meaning that the industry may feel a big hit.
It’s not clear what the future holds for other games and the measures that may be put in place, but based on what’s already happened, the most likely option is that the maximum stake allowed on slot machines will also be reduced.
It should be noted that upon the UKGC announcing that similar changes may be coming, the value of gambling company stocks dropped instantly. But if the government believes that these steps are necessary, then it will happen regardless of how it will impact these companies.
Stricter Rules On Advertising
It’s very common in the UK to see gambling adverts, whether it’s on the TV or at a live event. Even some football teams have gambling companies as major sponsors with their logo boldly printed on the front of their shirts.
In 2017, the UK gambling industry spent more than £1.5 billion on advertising alone, emphasising how lucrative this market is. To those who are opposed to gambling, this is enough evidence to suggest that it’s helping to normalize the activity, not just in everyday life, but also to those that aren’t even of legal age to gamble.
Stricter rules will likely mean they cannot advertise on TV when a major sporting event is taking place, as well as across social media platforms. This is because a lot of minors will be either watching the games or joining the discussion on social media, so it makes sense that the government is taking interest in these particular sectors. For an advertiser to be allowed to show ads on TV, they must be registered with the UK Gambling Commission, in good standing and their ads cannot be deceiving or overplay the benefits of online gambling.
However, in the case of social media, it will be challenging to stop gambling advertising altogether. Some companies have a lot of followers, like Paddy Power, who like to use their Twitter account for humor. In fact, some people will follow Paddy Power, not for the gambling side of things, but just for the funny tweets.
The government’s position on this isn’t clear. Right now, it seems that they are only interested in targeting explicit gambling adverts. This is similar to Ireland’s approach – banning all gambling advertising during certain events like the GAA.
What Can British Consumers Do To Gamble Responsibly
With all these new changes in regulations, one has to wonder: how can British gamblers enjoy a little fun on the side, and, ideally make some money, in a way that’s both safe and legal?
As we all know, UK has a long history of allow players to gamble online. That will not change. Most of the changes to the current legal frame are tied to ensuring that casinos are marketing and promoting their services in a way that is fair and accurate. As such, Britons can still enjoy their favorite games.
Ultimately, depending on your game of choice, as a consumer, you should simply be more vigilant about where you play online and to ensure it’s an authorized vendor. Here’s a quick rundown by game.
Poker is one of the most common online games in the UK. The online poker world got widespread recognition after the BBC started covering success stories over a decade ago about Britons who quit full time work and started playing poker online because they made more money this way. The best way to ensure you’re playing poker online without any major risks is to ensure that the site you’re using is accredited with the UK Gambling Commission. Since this is mostly not a game of luck, you just need to make sure you’re playing on a legitimate website.
According to 888ladies.com, there are over 3.5 million people playing bingo online. What’s even ore fascinating according to the same resource is that the average age of Bingo online players is between 25 and 34. This is a stark difference between how most of us think of bingo, which is a game often enjoyed by people in their 50ies. In addition to working with an accredited casino, you are best served by a bingo operator which is incredibly transparent about their online technology, tips and tricks on how to improve your game and a variety of incentives to get better at your game and enjoy it from the comfort of your home.
Blackjack is another incredibly popular online game in the UK. But it’s also a game that you need to do your own research upfront to ensure you’re signing up for exactly what you intended. Do you prefer 2:1 and 3:2 blackjack or 6:5 blackjack? Make sure the online casino you’re interested in offers the appropriate game. If you’re not sure, reach out to their customer support team. In addition, make sure you check out the online reviews for a specific casino. That means take your time to look online for independent reviews sites and former players op-eds before engaging with a new online casino. Remember – in blackjack, the casino has the edge. As such, you need to be extra sure you’re playing at a legitimate and fair casino online.
Other Things to Consider
The new rules make it compulsory for a betting company to verify a player’s age before they can deposit any funds and play.
This is because children under 18 years of age have illegally taken part in sports betting in recent times. As a result, they may have been subject to the same social issues as adult players.
The ID verification process is now stricter. While this may affect existing players and those that are legally allowed to play, overall, it makes the environment a lot safer. Players must prove (at minimum) their full name, address and date of birth.