Navigating the regulatory landscape of UK gambling

Britain is leading the way in creating regulated gambling landscapes and is the model that many other countries look to when shaping their own policies in this area.

Overall, market liberalization, coupled with a robust regulatory framework, is heralded as a success. Certainly, UK National Lottery funding has played an important role in many successful projects in the country. The community fund supports projects and activities that protect the country's heritage, transform communities and enrich lives through sport, arts and culture. Gambling in Britain is no longer something that happens 'behind closed doors'.

The industry has become incredibly important to the British economy, and we can barely turn on our radios or televisions or watch a sporting match without being bombarded with gambling advertisements. This is evident from a report by the British House of Lords 2018, spending on marketing and advertising amounted to £1.5 billion. This has raised concerns that children and vulnerable people are being overexposed to gambling messages, especially as it is estimated that the lion's share of marketing takes place online. In 2023, the Gambling Commission's Youth and Gambling Survey reported that 40% of 11 to 17 year olds had experience gambling, and more than a quarter said they actively gambled.

One of the problems with the regulatory landscape in Britain is that the gambling liberalization laws were designed for a different time. When lawmakers were trying to figure out the best way to both keep the public safe and allow easy access to sports and casino gambling in Britain, the internet was still in its infancy. Someone might have thought that online casinos could one day be a possibility, but with painfully slow internet connections and very little online security, this was not considered a real possibility. Considering how easy you can find a casino online Nowadays it is no wonder that some updates to the legislation have been necessary.

The first step towards the British gambling market as we know it today was the legislation that brought it about National Lottery, and the first draw took place on November 19, 1994. The UK Gambling Act 2005 was passed by the UK Parliament on April 7, 2005 and was fully implemented in September 2007. The purpose of the Act was to provide new powers and protections, including the establishment of the Gambling Commission. The law was introduced to keep gambling crime-free, ensure that gambling was fair and open and that children and vulnerable adults were protected. The law was backed by social responsibility and a new regime of fair regulation to help people enjoy gambling and encourage an important industry to thrive while behaving responsibly. The law provided for close consultation between all relevant authorities, the sector and those concerned with the consequences of problem gambling.

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 amended the 2005 Act to ensure that online gambling was properly regulated. It required companies wishing to offer online gambling in Britain to obtain an appropriate license from the UK Gambling Commission. This is regardless of the jurisdiction where they are located. At the same time, the Gaming Commission has made a number of changes to the License Conditions and Code of Practice (LCCP). It is a legal requirement for operators to verify the age of customers before they can deposit money and access free versions of slot games. The customer's date of birth, email address and address all need to be verified, as well as the customer's payment methods. They must also prove that they match the name of the gambling account holder. Since 2020, it is illegal to receive payments with credit cards and customers can set daily, weekly and monthly spending limits on their accounts.

However, there are still concerns that more needs to be done to protect vulnerable people. On February 23, the UK government announced that online slots betting limits for people under 25 would be reduced to £2 in September, with a limit of £5 for people over 25. There will be a six-week transition period during which operators must comply with the general rule for a £5 betting limit. There will then be a further six-week period during which they can develop the necessary technical solutions to achieve the £2 limit for 18- 24 year olds to implement.

Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Although millions of people gamble safely every day, the evidence shows that there is a significantly higher risk of gambling with online gambling games. We also know that young adults can be more vulnerable when it comes to gambling-related harm. That's why we've committed to addressing both issues in our white paper. The growing popularity of online gambling is clear to see, so this announcement will level the playing field with the land-based sector and is the next step in a host of measures being introduced this year that will protect people from gambling harm.

It is unlikely that this will be the last change we will see in Britain when it comes to gambling laws, although it is doubtful whether the proposed changes will be put on the law before the next general election.

The government wants the Gaming Commission to be given stricter powers to fine gambling companies that fail to protect people at risk. While millions of people can enjoy and safely play casino games occasionally, it is estimated that around 300,000 people suffer from gambling problems. Anyone hoping to set up a gambling business in Britain should proceed with caution. Earlier this year, William Hill was fined more than £19 million after a customer lost £23,000 in less than half an hour due to his mistakes.

There are also plans to close loopholes in the law to ensure that under-18s cannot gamble. This all stems from the Premier League's decision to ban betting advertising on the front of club shirts from the end of the 2025/2026 season. The government's latest White Paper sets out proposals for sports sector governing bodies to support a code of practice on gambling sponsorship and improve gambling sponsorship standards.

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon by Pixabay

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