Gambling is a form of entertainment, but also an activity that can cause the development of unwanted behaviours. As the number of online gambling platforms increases every year, more people gain easy access to this form of pastime and, if they don’t observe safety recommendations, develop problematic gambling habits.
Currently, British lawmakers are amending the legislation in this sphere to protect vulnerable groups from harm and monitor gambling providers more efficiently. Operators are obliged to follow fair play regulations, as well as assist in providing protection and support for those affected by gambling addiction. Now, legislators, regulators, operators and civil organisations are working towards the common goal of mitigating problematic gambling.
The Importance of Responsible Gambling Regulations
For as long as gambling has been around, so too have the social problems associated with this activity. Without proper institutional regulations, the iGaming industry can pose certain dangers to both gamblers and operators.
Listed below are some of the potential issues mitigated by the implementation of responsible gambling rules and procedures.
There is a distinction between gambling being problematic and gambling being an addiction. The former is when the gambling habit has already started to affect an individual’s day-to-day life, but the situation is still manageable. Addiction, however, implies a compulsive and excessive need to gamble irrespective of the effects it is having on daily life and the availability of resources. As with all compulsions, mental, physical and emotional addiction to gambling requires attention of specialists.
Underage Exposure to Gambling
Young people with gambling problems are often subject to self-esteem and depression issues. UK legislation prohibits the participation of minors in gambling activities, and helps their caregivers solve gambling-related problems. UK regulators enforce strict KYC (Know Your Customer) and identity verification procedures, making all operators verify their clientele’s personal details to deter underage gambling. Operators who do not comply face penalties through fines and/or having their licences revoked.
Many responsible gambling measures have been aimed at protecting gamblers from fraudulent activities, ranging from illegal lottery and scratch card sales to underground casinos that don’t payout winnings. Currently, the best way to deal with this problem is to encourage gamblers to use operators licensed by the UKGC or other regulators. Regulated platforms are licensed and legally bound to adhere to specific terms and conditions – otherwise, they wouldn’t be allowed to operate in the market. Licensed operators must implement measures against money laundering, promote fair play, and include measures that prevent the negative effects of gambling on players.
Gambling operators gather sensitive data about their customers. A breach in a casino’s data security would have many negative consequences for its customers. Personal information that gambling operators tend to possess often includes user identity and payment details. Double-checking the information about operators could help to prevent information from getting into the wrong hands. Regulators are there to ensure that licensed operators adhere to data protection policies and procedures. They also assist customers with complaints against operators who may have abused the information.
There is a strong correlation between gambling and criminal behaviour among people with gambling problems. Common crimes they tend to commit include money laundering, fraud and theft, domestic abuse, and child neglect. Gambling addicts with comorbidities like substance abuse and mental health disorders are more prone to making negative decisions that potentially lead to criminal behaviour. Fortunately, regulatory bodies pay special attention to this aspect of problematic gambling and constantly work on developing measures to mitigate its dangers.
UKGC and other regulatory bodies hold gambling operators accountable for instances of falsely marketed products, as well as harm coming from their products and services. In the iGaming industry, marketing must provide players with clear and specific guidelines regarding the conditions required to use online casinos’ services, games, and so on. The Commission, through regulations, encourages open and transparent fair interactions between operators and gamblers. Should they fail to honour their marketing promises, operators are imposed with fines and may have their licenses revoked.
Responsible Gambling Regulations in the UK
Throughout recent years, gambling legislation and other regulations have been significantly updated, especially in those parts regarding problem gambling and gambling addiction. A phenomenal rise in gambling activities, particularly among teens and young adults, has led to the implementation of laws meant to curb this behaviour.
Gambling Act 2005
The three main goals of the Act are to ensure that gambling:
- Does not support any criminal activity
- Is conducted fairly and openly
- Can protect vulnerable persons from harm and exploitation
Regulators monitor casinos and make sure that they comply with these requirements. Operators must also:
- Follow money laundering regulations
- Have systems that support open and fair play principles
- Prevent minors from accessing gambling platforms
- Provide support for those with gambling problems.
Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014
The Act specifies all gambling activities that require licensing. Explicitly excluding the participation of minors in gambling activities, the Commission also lists categories under which operators can conduct business, including lotteries, casinos, machine and software gambling providers and more.
The Act also provides application guidelines for different kinds of services run by gambling operators, as well as standards for these operators to uphold and adhere to.
Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP)
Licensed operators must adhere to stipulated conditions and codes of practice. This obligation serves three major goals:
- Ensuring that an operator is working according to industry standards
- Providing means for an operator to be held accountable in case of violations
- Directing an operator’s actions towards the best interests of its customers.
Other LCCP requirements include but are not limited to the following demands:
- An operator must provide a facility that allows safe financial transactions for customers
- Hardware and software used by a gambling operator must not have been manipulated in favour of the operator
- Customers must be able to deposit funds and withdraw their winnings through secure and regulated financial institutions.
Why is the gambling industry so heavily regulated in the UK?
For certain social groups, the line between gambling as entertainment and gambling as an addiction can be too easy to cross. Considering the increase in the number of inland and offshore online gambling operators, as well as the availability of their services to minors and other vulnerable individuals, legislators have to make appropriate provisions and tighten the regulation of the iGaming industry in the United Kingdom.
What responsibilities do gambling platforms have?
Operators are required to be licensed by the UKGC. All casinos licensed in the UK must be registered with GamStop to ensure responsible gambling practices and prevent problematic gamblers from playing. Operators must promote their services fairly and make sure that the games they provide are fair for the player. If an operator fails to observe the rules and regulations imposed by the UKGC, players ought to have a platform for complaints and testimonials.
Should I be paying more attention to my gambling habits?
Yes. Gambling is seen as a recreational pastime and not as a means to supplement an income. Some signs to look out for are when you are spending more than you are gaining. This will result in feelings of anxiety and stress, leading to a cycle of irrationally compensating losses with increased betting. Once your quality of life begins to be negatively impacted by gambling, seek help.
Why worry about responsible gambling if there’s always an option for self-exclusion?
As with any addiction, there is impaired impulse control that leads individuals to engage in a continuous cycle of negative behaviour. Platforms like GamStop do allow problematic gamblers to voluntarily self-exclude from playing and stay abstinent for a while, but it is possible to bypass GamStop restrictions. So, we would not recommend you rely on self-exclusion services, but rather develop and practice healthy and safe gambling habits.
What would you recommend doing to gamble more responsibly?:
Be proactive about protecting your finances. Never gamble in a bad mood, when you are stressed, or bored. Never chase losses. Plan your budget in such a way that all the important needs (taxes, food, health, and so on) are covered, and allocate just a small amount of the funds for your gambling hobby. Spend time on other hobbies and socialise with people to help in psycho-social dependency on gambling.
Are there any tools that would help me track my budgeting, time spent on gambling, and so on?
Yes. Make sure to visit our responsible gambling tools page for guidelines and recommendations that will help you play at online casinos more safely. These tools, in particular, include time trackers, budget planners, self-exclusion software, and other similar solutions.