What do increasing regulations mean for UK Online Gamblers?
Across the world, governments and authorities are tightening the rules when it comes to online gambling. It can feel like new legislation and laws are passed almost every week somewhere around the globe to create a more regulated approach to online gambling.
This is true nowhere more so than in the UK, which established its own UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) as part of the 2005 Gambling Act. This move sought to bring together existing rules that were somewhat fragmented and update them for the digital age. In the years since the creation of the UKGC, the country has been leading the way when it comes to online gambling regulation.
Limiting Maximum Fixed Betting Stakes
The latest moves from the UKGC are focused on protecting what it sees as the most vulnerable customers currently playing at both on and offline casinos in Britain. One key area where changes have looked to protect players back in 2019 was the limiting of stakes possible on fixed-odds betting terminals. A new rule was introduced to reduce the maximum stake possible on such terminals found in high street betting shops from £100 to £2.
Ever since the bill was ratified by parliament, there has been much speculation that the same rules will be applied to online gambling activity at UK licenced £10 deposit casinos. As yet, this has not occurred, despite the announcement of some new measures for online gambling operators coming in 2021.
New Online Slot Game Restrictions
The 2021 measures did bring some changes into the world of online casino players. These were very focused on the mechanics of how slot games work and included a ban on auto-play features in the UK market. This means that players can no longer tap to start a series of spins that an online slot will carry out automatically. There were also additional restrictions on the speed at which players can spin the reels, meaning that there is an enforced pause between each spin of a game’s reels.
Misleading in-game features were also targeted by the changes to stop games showing celebratory graphics when the outcome was lower than the bet. This was to limit a player’s sense of winning despite it actually being a minus on their bankroll.
All of these tweaks to the already highly regulated UK online casino market are designed to give players a chance to stop and think about what they are spending when playing online. By slowing down the rapid pace and frantic spin rate of slot games, it is hoped that players can better understand how much their funds are depleting as they play.
Ban on Using Credit Cards to Gamble
In recent years, the UKGC has taken some high-profile direct action against a number of the big online casino and sports betting operators. Large fines have hit the headlines and brought the dubious behaviour of some brands to the attention of the masses.
This increased scrutiny led to 10 of the largest gaming companies and betting brands coming together and sign up to a series of pledges of self-regulation in 2019. The promise was for them to act swiftly to tackle underage and problem gambling, doing all they can to protect the most vulnerable. These self-created pledges didn’t do enough to satisfy the UKGC or parliament as they pushed on with tighter regulations regardless.
Regulations included the complete ban on using credit cards to fund gambling activity. This law was brought in to stop customers from playing and betting online with money that was not their own, thus creating debts through gambling. Several cases where players had lost control and racked up massive personal debts were highlighted in the national press, leading to the more stringent laws being passed.
Creating a Safer Playing Environment
When compared to many territories around the world, UK players can be glad that gambling is a highly regulated and yet legal activity at any UKGC licenced casino. Other countries have chosen a different path, imposing a blanket ban on gambling or playing slot games online.
Although this might reduce the temptation to bet money or play online casinos games, it also creates a subset of players who use casinos with less stringent licences and restrictions. This can leave many gamblers to play in an unsafe and unregulated way, giving them nothing to fall back on should any issues arise.