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A Player’s Perspective: One Year Review of the UK’s Gambling Act Changes

It’s been a year since the Gambling Act Review white paper was released, causing a big shake-up in the UK gambling scene. This hefty document, 268 pages long, promised to change the UK Gambling scene for everyone.

Updated May 20th, 2024
UK Gambling Act Changes Review - Are They Working?
UK Gambling Act Changes Review - Are They Working?
18+

It was meant to make it safer, remove the risk from unlicensed gaming sites, and protect children and the vulnerable.

iGaming Business has released a long article explaining how it affects UK online casinos and, by default, the players. However, we wanted to examine the pros and cons specifically from a player’s perspective. We know casinos will make money, but have our rights been affected? Have we been infantilised and told we are too stupid to look after ourselves?

In other words, how’s it shaping up for us players? Are we safer or more restricted?

The UK Gambling Act Review: One Year On

Introduced on April 27, 2023, the white paper aimed to redefine regulations for online casinos in the UK, land-based gaming, and horse racing. From more rigid controls to new policies, it’s been an interesting year seeing all these changes start to take root.

Key objectives of the Gambling Act review included:

  1. Enhancing Player Safety: This involves implementing stronger measures to protect players from gambling harm, such as improved age verification processes and tools for setting limits on gambling activity.
  2. Preventing Problem Gambling: The review aims to tackle the root causes of problem gambling through early intervention and better access to information and support.
  3. Increasing Transparency and Fairness: Ensuring gambling operators provide clear information about the risks and terms of gambling products.
  4. Strengthening Regulation: Updating and tightening the regulations that govern gambling operators, especially in the online sector, to ensure compliance and fair play.

On paper, doesn’t that all look great? Who would want to be against transparency and safety? Not we! We cry! And yet, saying that’s what you want to do and doing it in a way that benefits most gamblers are two very different things.

Let’s look at the main section and ask: have they succeeded?

Increased UK Casino Player Protection – WIN

One of the revised Gambling Act’s most significant aspects is its increased focus on player protection. Measures such as stricter age and identity verification, tools for setting limits on play and spending, and a more proactive approach to tackling problem gambling have been broadly welcomed.

Registering and proving your income to receive your winnings might feel like a pain, but you only have to do it once. These safeguards are necessary steps to prevent gambling addiction and provide a safety net for vulnerable players.

Gambling Advertising Restrictions – LOSE?

The crackdown on gambling advertisements, particularly around sports events, was intended to reduce exposure and the potential glamorization of gambling. For many gamblers, this has reduced the temptation and prompts that could lead to unplanned betting sprees, as well as restricted access to gambling for children who go to these sporting events.

However, there are legitimate complaints that these restrictions have diluted the excitement and engagement of sports betting, particularly during major events like football matches or horse races.

Meanwhile all gaming slot sites have to be age-restricted, and no adverts can be seen to advertise cute or children-friendly games. In theory.

According to Guardian.co.uk, “recent data from the Gambling Commission published last year showed young people’s exposure to gambling adverts and promotions had declined compared to the previous year.” However, this is in an article about how Children are seeing more gambling ads than ever before online. So which is it?

Are Children at risk, and are we losing the excitement of betting?

The jury is still out. On the one hand, try to play slots for real money anywhere online, and you’ll encounter age restriction verification, which is fantastic. We’ve implemented free to play slots, and you need to be verified to play in the UK, as it should be—check out the Cash Crew Slot and hit the Play for Free button if you don’t believe us. We are an 18+ website, but we don’t control who Google sends to our website.

Social media and banner ads are the big “bad” here. The question is: why are they seeing 18+ gambling adverts? The companies that hold our children’s data need to tackle this, as they are still bombarding them with adverts that are not suitable for them.

As for dulling the excitement of sports betting… Look, we don’t think that a footballer not wearing an 888 shirt dulls much of anything. If you want special offers and excitement, log in to your favourite betting and casino app and see what’s on offer while playing the game. Be an adult and be responsible for your own gambling needs.

Credit Card Ban and Affordability Checks – WIN and LOSE

The ban on using credit cards for gambling and the introduction of stricter affordability checks have received mixed reactions. On one hand, these measures prevent gamblers from spending money they don’t have and potentially falling into debt. Great.

We’ve always said don’t gamble with money you don’t have; credit card money isn’t yours. A credit Card Ban was a good call.

On the other, the increased scrutiny and additional barriers to funding accounts can feel patronizing and intrusive to everyday punters who manage their budgets responsibly.

The Affordability Check Controversy: What It Means for UK Gamblers

This topic has been hot! If the proposed checks come into effect, players who lose £1,000 in a day or £2,000 over three months might face these new checks. This move has stirred up quite a controversy, with a petition against it gathering over 100,000 signatures.

Melanie Ellis, a gambling regulation expert, mentioned that while the idea is good, the implementation needs to be handled carefully. She suggests that checks should be tailored to individual circumstances rather than applying a broad brush to all players.

After all, do you want to give that much financial information to a casino? Imagine if every time you walked into a pub, you had to show them your bank statements to show you could afford to drink there and you don’t frequent other pubs too often.

In theory, it sounds like a way to protect alcoholics. In practice, it leaves the majority of us who aren’t addicted feeling very vulnerable as we hand out our financials to any Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Balancing Act: Player Freedom VS Stricter Gambling Regulations

Victoria Reed from Better Change highlighted how gambling is already one of the most tightly regulated sectors. She makes the fair point that it’s important not just to add more rules but to find a fair balance that respects our freedom and safety.

The blanket approach to financial checks might unfairly stigmatize gambling compared to other leisure activities. Can we find the right balance? Or, as we fear, will tougher regulations send players off to play in unregulated foreign casinos where they are likely to be more, not less, vulnerable?

If UK Casinos aren’t fun anymore, it’s a big wide internet full of dark places and unlicensed gambling sites. We need to strike a balance.

We Need Better Regulations, not Stricter Betting Challenges

The changes proposed in the white paper aim to prevent gambling harm before it starts, focusing on education and responsible gambling practices. These include the debated affordability checks and a new 1% levy on gambling revenue to fund prevention and treatment programs.

The experts say these changes could actually be a win-win. Operators might have to rethink their strategies, aiming for higher standards that ultimately benefit players by fostering safer and more sustainable gambling practices.

Matt Zarb-Cousin from Gamban thinks setting a higher bar could mean a healthier environment for us to enjoy our bets without pushing the limits too far.

So, a year into the white paper’s world, are we seeing a rise in standards? There’s been plenty of action, but the real effects might only become clear in the coming months.

The industry aims highly for sustainability and safety, but only time will tell if these efforts strike the right balance without sending players towards less regulated options.

Here’s to hoping for a fair and fun gambling environment for everyone involved!

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