Responsible online gambling is the hot topic among regulated European markets at the moment and the UK is the latest country to join the push for a safer igaming climate.
Coming a few months after the UK ushered in a new taxation and licensing regime, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is now pushing for tighter controls regarding the way in which players in the UK are exposed to the industry.
Following a review of the current system, the UKGC has suggested that operators could be doing more to minimize the risk of problem gambling.
The review, which took place in 2014, has identified a number of areas in which the industry can tighten up and these points have been addressed in an updated version of the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice.
Greater Transparency from igaming Operators
This set of rules, which every licensed online poker site in the UK must abide by, will be officially updated on May 8, after which time operators will have to place a greater emphasis on “social responsibility”.
“The work we have done through the review represents a significant strengthening of the social responsibility measures in the LCCP. But we have reached the point at which it is clear that much more could be achieved if anonymous gambling in cash was not such a prominent feature of land-based gambling,” said the Gambling Commission’s Chair, Philip Graf.
Anonymous gambling refers to the way in which operators and players can track their own spending, or not (easily) as is currently that case. Although Graf has only called for a public debate on the matter, he has pointed to a similar model that’s been successfully rolled out in Sweden as an example of how things could work.
Overall, the UKGC wants its licensed platforms to be more transparent and prepared to give players expert help and assistance at all times.
Some of the main responsible online gambling features that will come into effect over the coming months will be:
Measures to make it harder for underage children to ante-up online.
Improved self-exclusion measures and trained members of staff designed to help those with issues.
Annual assurance statements from top operators outlining the measures in place and the figures relating to problem gambling on their platforms.
More transparent marketing and the removal of any ads that could be deemed as misleading.
The Swedish Case Study
Although creating a safer igaming environment for players across the UK is desirable, it could come at the price of the country’s online revenues.
Similar measures implemented in Sweden recently have led to a slight drop in the annual takings for the country’s leading igaming outfit, Svenska Spel.
Following the integration of new responsible gaming measures, the operator’s 2014 revenue suffered an 8 per cent decline.
However, despite the drop, Svenska Spel’s CEO, Lennart Käll, was happy that the new regulations were helping curb problem gambling.
“I am proud that 2014 laid the foundation for enhanced gaming. These measures have resulted in reduced revenues and are completely according to plan. From this base, we will continue to develop the gaming experience for our customers and strengthen our customer and partner relationships,” said Käll.
Whether or not the UK’s top operators would see a dip in revenues remains to be seen; however, it’s clear that governments across regulated markets are now becoming more interested in the safety of players and that should pay dividends in the future.