Casino patrons may start seeing some changes to the way online operators are doing business in the UK as new gambling rules are surfacing across the board. Major modifications suggested by the UK Gambling Commission and a cross-party group of MPs are being considered for implementation, as well as a modern review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
It would take time for any legislative actions to take place, but many argue that these moves are needed sooner rather than later. Gambling businesses have exploded in the UK in the past decade alone and frequently find themselves caught in the spotlight for scandal and misconduct.
In early 2019, a law about limits on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) transpired, reducing the minimum allowable bet from £100 to £2. This, and a handful of agreed-upon changes, are just the beginning of a longer list of measures brought about by concerned MPs and activists whose numbers have grown since early calls for reform. Voices like Tom Watson, Tracey Crouch, and Carolyn Harris have found support from several different arenas including former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, Gloucester MP Richard Graham, and SNP member Ronnie Cowan.
Curbing underage gambling on online casino sites is one of the goals the UK Gambling Commission has zeroed in on, putting the responsibility on operators to manually vet their players. This will involve asking customers to verify their age by submitting some form of identification and then having a compliance team check each ID.
Since most sites don’t allow customers to use payment cards that don’t have the same name as the account holder, proponents of the rule see it as a model solution, stopping clever underage players from using workarounds to get to casinos online. The time it takes to get verified has also improved considerably with some gambling operators rushing to manage the increase in verification requests.
No Credit Cards
The Gambling Commission also introduced a decision to make using a credit card to put in a deposit at an online casino officially illegal in the UK. The Commission publicly announced the new restriction after a survey by the UKGC showed that almost 22% of all problem gamblers used a credit card to back their accounts.
After the announcement, several online payment sites and e-wallet services like Paypal followed suit, alerting customers to the change in legislation and encouraging users to add debit cards to their accounts. Compatibility with online payment services has become an increasingly common feature for online casino sites with some operators even offering cryptocurrency exchange.
Shaking up an Empire
Some other measures put forward included banning tv and online gambling advertisements, ending VIP memberships, and a £2 stake limit on online slots. Critics worry that altering gambling laws will affect the market too much, putting casinos at high risk for failure as was the case with William Hill after FOBTs reductions. Meanwhile, existing customers have complaints about dealing with what they see as inconvenient changes in an industry that hasn’t seen any kind of strict regulation since the 2005 Gambling Act.
How new restrictions will mesh with new technologies and a market that has grown exponentially has yet to be seen, however. In fact, with the time it will take for the Gambling Act to be reviewed and amended, as well as for casinos to apply new laws to existing operations it may be some time before the impact of legislative change on the gambling market is fully understood.