Gambling is a huge business, generating hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues around the world each year. Thanks to more and more countries relaxing their strict gambling laws and the advancement of the online sector, the gambling industry is growing steadily year on year.
The popularity of online casinos in particular has encouraged investors with no previous experience of gambling to invest in the industry. As they find out though, opening an online casino is not an easy task, and isn’t a guaranteed way of making a quick buck.
Every online casino must meet the strictest of legal guidelines to take money and make profits. We look at the tight demands on online casinos in the world’s leading online gambling market – the UK.
In the US, every online gambling company must obtain a license from the relevant state authority before operating. But obtaining a license is easier in certain states than in others.
In the UK, however, any company wishing to offer its gambling services to British citizens must obtain a license from the Gambling Commission. The main goal of this is to ensure that license holders operate to a strict code of conduct regarding safe and fair gambling.
Another key aspect of the licensing process in the UK is that it is costly. This works as a prohibitive measure to ward off unscrupulous providers looking to dip into online gambling to rip off customers and make quick and easy money.
Companies that obtain a license must also agree to be monitored and audited by the Gambling Commission, to ensure they are operating to standard practice guidelines.
Over the past decade, the behavior and practices of the British online gambling industry has been put under the microscope by the government and the media. The most recent result of this scrutiny has been the introduction of betting limits on certain games.
Online slots, for example, have had strict maximum betting limits enforced on them, as well as their physical counterparts. This move was taken to mitigate the potential impact that problem gambling can have on individuals.
Some companies, however, have taken their obligation to customers one step further than just adhering to government guidelines. 888 Casino – one of the biggest operators in the UK – have taken the decision to employ responsible gaming practices and tools to all their games, from slots and blackjack to live casino and baccarat – as well as their online roulette. These include age verification, the option to set self-limits, self-exclusion, asking for source of funds and other tools for identifying problematic behavior and avoiding compulsive gambling.
This move was praised by industry experts and is a great example of how regulations can inspire individual companies to take a more active role in the safeguarding of their customers.
Credit Card Bans
Up until quite recently, it was common to read stories of gamblers racking up enormous debts to feed their habits. One of the most harrowing was the tale of Tony O’Reilly, an Irish postman who wagered €10,413,619.66 over the course of eight years.
Unsurprisingly, Tony’s earnings from working in the Irish postal service never came close to that amount. Initially, Tony gambled with what money he had, before progressing onto betting with borrowed cash and then finally, betting with the money he had stolen from his employer.
In 2011, when the extent of Tony’s habit was uncovered, it was perfectly legal for gamblers in the UK & Ireland to make deposits online with their credit cards. Now, gamblers can only make deposits from their debit cards.
This move was taken to reduce the risk of gamblers frittering away money that they don’t really have. It’s supposed to break the cycle of people getting themselves into debt because of gambling, and then gambling to get themselves out of debt.
Of course, there are those who will still encounter problems with gambling, but the move to ban credit card deposits has been beneficial in reducing that risk in recent years.
Tight Verification Processes
Just 10 years ago, there was a major problem in the British online gambling industry with regards to verification and age identification. Essentially, all that was needed to open a gambling account was an active bank account.
This, of course, led to abuse with several underage gamblers taking advantage of the lax registration rules. It also led to a large number of gamblers setting up numerous accounts under different names to game the system and bet on all outcomes.
Recently, the Gambling Commission has put pressure on individual gambling companies to tighten up their sign-up rules and verification processes. Now it’s commonplace to have to provide photographic ID along with two utility bills to open up an online gambling account in the UK.
This has had a major impact on the amount of underage people signing up to gambling sites and greatly replaced the amount of people actively gaming the system.
The UK is the shining light of regulation when it comes to global online gambling, but that does not mean that it hasn’t had its fair share of problems. What separates the online gambling industry in the UK to other jurisdictions and countries is its ability to evolve.
Every problem encountered by the industry has been viewed as an opportunity to grow, rather than as something to ignore or overreact to. As a result, British online gambling is widely regarded as having one of the best regulations in the world.
There may still be problems with British online gambling, but you can be sure that in the coming years every step will be taken by the authorities to overcome them, and make online gambling in the UK a fairer and safer activity.