The online gambling industry is thriving, growing year-on-year at an impressive rate. According to estimates, it currently pulls in annual revenues of around £80 billion, with the European market being the largest contributor to this figure. That is not surprising, as it is the most advanced in terms of legislation.
Though the gross gambling yield (GGY) of the UK’s gambling industry has steadily decreased over the past three years, it still generates a GGY of over £14 billion and remains one of the continent’s most massive players. It is also one of its most heavily-regulated markets, and at the start of this year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced that it would introduce even firmer control over this sector.
The goal behind this measure package is to strengthen player protection and reduce problem gambling in the country. Online casino review platforms also play an essential role in user protection, providing in-depth analysis of gambling sites that help players make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls.
Why Did the UK Review Its Online Gambling Regulation?
Online gambling became legal in the UK with the Gambling Act of 2005, passed by Tony Blair’s government. However, it wasn’t until three years later, following the global financial crisis of 2008, that the market hit its stride and began growing at a frantic pace. The 2005 act was responsible for creating the UKGC, whose role was to ensure fair and safe gambling, provide adequate player protection, and remove the influence of any criminal elements from this industry. Thanks to its existence, the UK market has widely been considered the safest one in the world.
Over the past decade and a half, the Gambling Act has undergone minor revisions. It is clear to everyone that the situation has changed since 2005, and what once was a niche activity has grown into a popular national pastime. Thus, pressure has mounted on the UKGC to implement new rules and increase fines for operators. Much of this stems from a 2020 YouGov survey. It claimed that 2.7% of adults in Britain that partake in this pastime are problem gamblers. However, the independent charity GambleAware and the UKGC stated that this percentage is an overestimation and that the real figure is around 0.7%. Nevertheless, the YouGov survey started a public discourse that led to the UKGC implementing its new regulations.
What Are the New Measures?
According to statistics, online slots dominate Briton’s gambling spending. Estimates say that the UK public spent around £2.2 billion on playing reel-spinning games over the internet in 2019. These games replicate the behavior of physical slot machines, which are mainstays on casino floors, and are their most significant revenue generators.
The UKGC has now deemed online slots too intense, as they produce the highest average losses per player of any digital gambling product. To curb their loss amassing potency, the UKGC introduced several bans on popular slot features. No longer can operators house games that speed-up gameplay via the auto-spin fiction. Their games cannot produce sounds/imagery that gives off the illusion of a win when the prize won is equal/lower than the wagered amount. They must also clearly display the total loss and time spent on a gaming session and introduce a mandatory 2.5-second wait between slot spins.
On top of all this, players will now be no longer able to reverse a withdrawal and re-gamble money they requested get taken out of their casino account. Operators must implement these measures by October 31 of 2021.
In September of 2020, the UKGC also brought forward new rules regulating operator’s VIP practices. According to these, anyone offering such schemes must perform ongoing gambling harm checks on users they deem as VIPs and establish if their spending is sustainable as part of the customer’s leisure spend.
Other Countries Are Also Implementing Stricter Regulation
Due to tax revenues leaving Germany and heading to countries of international licensors, such as Gibraltar and Malta, German legislators have decided to implement licensing for online gambling starting from July of 2021. Norway is facing much of the same issues as Germany, and due to a 62% increase in internet betting last year, they also plan to adopt a licensing model that increases tax revenues in the country. In the Nederlands, the government introduced the Remote Gambling Bill, which will regulate operators that target the Dutch market. It should enter into force by April 1, but the full implementation of this licensing regiment will not happen until October 1. In November of 2020, Spain introduced significant restrictions on advertising relating to gambling, as did the Swedish government starting from January of 2021.
About the Author
Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.