The Gambling Act of 2005 changed the UK into one of the most liberal jurisdictions worldwide. But this year may bring further changes in the industry, with a long-awaited white paper rumoured to emerge soon.
A stringent regulatory framework for levies and fines is anticipated. Also, we will expect changes in compliance obligations, advertising, VIP programs, and more. All are meant to ensure operators offer a safer gambling environment for their players.
Here are a few areas where strict regulation is likely to occur.
Licensing for New Casinos
Gambling licensing laws in the UK guide operators on how they should run their gambling services. The Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Bill 2014 are the main relevant legal documents.
The new act requires operators to hold a license as proof of their legitimacy. Some websites hold more than one license. But that’s alright—it shows they have the authority to offer their services in multiple countries.
If you’re planning to play casino games online, look beyond licensing. Go and read reviews and compare the best ranked operators on sites like online-casinos.com. Focus on new brands like PlayOjo and Slot Millions—they tend to have better bonuses and faster payouts.
Game stake limits and payment methods
A step has already been taken to stop using credit cards on gambling websites. That is a positive move, but more action is needed to protect gamblers.
New limits are now being rolled out. These include a potential 2-pound limit for online table games and slots (per spin).
The new gambling act asks companies to change how they list bonuses and promotions on their website. For instance, the firm should ensure that the reader is fully aware of the terms and conditions of every advertisement.
VIP programs are significant issues that the new act needs to address seriously. The UK Gambling Commission considers VIP schemes a fraud, targeting high-value customers. Thus, VIP programs offered by bookmakers are likely to be curbed and banned.
Although loyalty programs and points are not directly cited, they are mostly linked to VIP programs and share plenty of issues. For this reason, loyalty schemes may be outlawed or at least have more transparency about how much money is needed relative to the value of the rewards.
Today, self-exclusion from one bookmaker doesn't necessarily mean you will be excluded altogether. You can create an account with an exclusion database that most firms are supposed to check. But this still offers a lot of problems to gamblers.
The new act mandates that self-exuded gamblers' details be shared with other operators and relevant bodies. This will help reduce the amount of addiction.
Deposit protection for customers
Deposit protection is part of the 2005 Gambling Act but currently it does not force gambling firms to protect funds in case they go bust. Now, there are three levels of customer funds’ protection.
We are starting with the basic. This level offers no extra protection. Funds in these accounts are considered part of the business if it goes bust.
The medium level offers arrangements (for instance, insurance) to ensure the money in a separate account is given to players if the company goes bust.
The last one is high level. Under this, the customer's funds are held in an account that an external auditor legally controls. The new act insists gambling firms offer at least a medium level of protection.
Gambling levy and fines
Currently, the gambling levy is voluntary and applies to those betting firms registering with it. However, the new act will undoubtedly introduce a mandatory levy to prevent harm from gambling. The Gambling Commission will collect the levy.
On the other hand, fines are likely to increase to ensure companies adhere to strict rules and regulations. Money from fines will also be looked at; currently, this is given to various charities.
Reverse withdrawal and pending periods
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the UKGC initiated a draft of emergency measures to help minimise gambling issues. One of them was to eradicate reverse withdrawals.
Reverse withdrawals allow gamblers to cancel a withdrawal they have initiated while it is in a pending period. Pending periods can last for days, even weeks. This may discourage those with addictive gambling to continue playing.
Responsible gambling tools
All firms are currently expected to offer various gambling tools to help players gamble responsibly. These include deposit limits, activity warnings, time limits, product exclusion, etc.
Most of these are optional for gamers. But expect that under the new act, this will be reversed. Players will have limits automatically imposed. Also, expect new tools to be added to the list. These include shared data between firms to allow players to see how much they gamble across all platforms.
Source of funds checks
If a player makes a larger deposit than the usual activity, then companies should check the source of funds. This helps to ensure legal gambling activity.
Over the past decade, one of the biggest downfalls has been in this area, where companies repeatedly fail to check where large deposits come from. The new act is certain to cover this area with more detailed guidelines and the expected thresholds.
Free bets and bonuses
Bonuses are starting kitty to boost players' bankrolls without having to fork out their own cash. These free incentives, however, can be dangerous, especially for those addicted to gambling. So, expect new curbs on the types and sizes of promotions betting firms can offer for new and existing customers.
Bonuses and free bets have already been curbed to some degree, which is why you have seen the size of welcome offers decrease in the past years. But there is more to be done, and tighter rules may come into force. These include terminology used; for instance, "free bets" may no longer be allowed.
The new act aims to balance the competition in the industry to avoid a monopoly. Also, it promises to balance freedom of choice for players with regulations designed to protect them. Indeed, the new gambling act is unlikely to create a smile on the face of many gambling firms, but it will some way go to helping those striving to control their gambling. And this is better in the long run.
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