The United Kingdom, home to one of the biggest gambling sectors in the world — and where online casinos are rapidly taking a big bite out of the betting pie — has brought in a set of new rules designed to make gambling fairer for everyone playing, and to protect people too.
The rules were introduced by the UK Gambling Commission, a government body overseeing the gambling and lottery sectors in the four-nation country comprising England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The commission has been working to clean up the gambling industry by making it harder for firms to withhold winnings, launder money and other bad practices. In recent years, it has handed out tens of millions of pounds in fines to gambling firms that fell foul of its regulations.
Last year, for instance, rogue gambling firms were slapped with a record £19.6 million in penalties for their failures to protect gamblers — including potential problem gamblers who bet large amounts of money in a short time who the operators did nothing to stop. Now, the commission has gone a step further in trying to keep gamblers from harm when visiting a betting shop, land-based or online casino.
Improving the Gambling Experience
The new gambling rules are designed to improve the ways operators resolve disputes with customers, as well as how they interact with them — particularly those who may have a gambling problem or are at risk of developing one. The regulations were created after a period of consultation with industry players. Some came into effect at the end of October, while other elements of them will be applicable from January 2020.
The commission says it is working with gambling firms under a set of voluntary arrangements to fund research into gambling and to find additional ways to prevent people from coming to harm from their gambling. This includes effective treatment programmes for those who have developed a problem and perhaps have a gambling addiction.
The regulator’s executive director, Paul Hope, said he would continue to take a tough stance with gambling operators, to improve conditions for gamblers. “These changes have been designed to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers and we expect gambling firms to meet their responsibilities in these areas,” he said.
Booming UK Gambling Sector
Brits’ love of gambling is reflected in the value of the country’s betting industry, which last year was worth £14.5 billion. In total, there are 2,757 gambling firms in the UK that are licenced by the commission to operate. The number of betting shops, bingo premises and land-based casinos in the UK declined up to September last year when there were 132 fewer bettings shops. But there are still a lot, with 8,423 premises for betting remaining.
But the remote sector is on the rise, and is now taking an almost 40% share of the overall gambling market, according to commission figures. This is likely due to an increase in the amount of apps and more sophisticated and user-friendly gambling websites that let people play live casino games online, no matter where they are. With a live mobile casino, for instance, customers get all the gambling action they would at a physical casino, but without having to go to the time or expense of travelling to one and perhaps staying at a hotel.
The powerful gambling watchdog wants to ensure this valuable industry is cleaned up and treats its customers in a fair and secure manner, thereby ensuring a level playing field for everyone.