The push for a safer gambling environment has resurfaced time and again, but it wasn’t until 2018 and the ban of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that industry and lawmakers saw eye-to-eye and came up with a united front against the increase in problem gambling numbers. The issue at the time was not that problem gamblers constituted a significant part of the population in the UK, however.
Rather, it was about whether the practices used by the industry at large, from VIP schemes to bank cards, to FOBTs limits, were actually beneficial to the player and protected them from sinking into debt as some consumers proved more susceptible to developing an addiction through no fault of theirs. Essentially, the UK Government, harsh as it has often been against gambling, didn’t assail operators per se so much as the institution of gambling.
The changes of the past years have all helped shape an industry that is safer, more consumer-friendly, and ultimately caring for the well-being and mental health of people participating in it. Today, operators are not only complying with government-issued regulation, as they help steer it in a direction that protects players.
The Big Changes in UK Gambling That Matter
Over the past years, significant changes were made in creating a safer gaming environment for all. Credit cards were banned, which was a landmark achievement, and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) managed to push through a reform of VIP and loyalty rules as well as impose much stricter KYC and AML checks.
Operators today are committed to promoting Responsible Gambling to customers, as well as boosting awareness of problem gambling, improving prevention by early intervention, and ultimately protecting vulnerable players. The industry focuses on supporting the customers by providing safe gambling platforms with integrity, fairness, and reliability.
The changes come in the broader context of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS)’s efforts, which has been reviewing the Gambling Act 2005 or the document that regulates the online gambling industry in the United Kingdom.
The review has touched on important concepts that were previously not discussed enough, such as “affordability” and whether individuals can spend the money they are actually spending on the hobby. Responsible Gambling has become a doubly significant phrasing that now dominates not only advertisements aired by NGOs, such as GambleAware, but is also a focus of ongoing reviewing efforts.
Big Industry Leaders Lead the Way
There have been great industry examples as well. Entain has been investing copious amounts in technology to help safeguard vulnerable consumers against the dangers of excessive online play, focusing on both gambling and video gaming. The company has expended no small effort in creating a safer overall industry, and it joined bet365, Betsson, Kindred, and William Hill in a recent pledge to make sure that all customers have a safe and fun online gambling experience.
Meanwhile, other prominent operators in the UK, including STS Bet, have taken an equally unambiguous position on championing responsible gambling: “Operators should be committed to endorsing Responsible Gambling among customers, as well as promoting the awareness of problem gambling, improving prevention by early intervention, and ultimately protecting vulnerable players. The industry must focus on supporting the customers by providing safe gambling platforms, with integrity, fairness, and reliability.”
The Gambling Act review will have its impact on the industry, and this is a fact, but a lot of progress has already been achieved in anticipation of the upcoming changes. With operators on the lookout for promoting safer gambling as well, the UK will enact changes that are tailored to the new challenges of the digital era.