The UK’s casino industry continues to be incredibly lucrative and growing rapidly, particularly online. Whilst 2019 was a profitable year for many, it has also seen numerous changes in terms of regulation and initiatives to maintain responsible gambling, many of which are likely to be brought to fruition in 2020, as highlighted below.
Tackling gambling addiction
The gambling regulator, The Gambling Commission, continues to fight gambling addiction with a reported 350,000 gambling addicts in the UK at the moment. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of warnings and labels that have come with organised gambling.
In the last year, we have seen fixed odds machines in bookmakers limited to £2 per bet, something that has always been a huge revenue spinner for high street bookies, and subsequently led to closure of hundreds of stores for Ladbrokes and William Hill.
Following pressure from the regulator, William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair, Skybet and Bet 365 have all pledged to increase their voluntary levy on gambling profits from 0.1% to 1% up to 2023. If the firms follow through, this will be a contribution of £60m that the NHS can use to tackle addiction through greater awareness and programmes.
Fines, fines and more fines
As part of putting pressure on casino operators, 2019 has seen some large companies receive hefty fines for malpractice including Ladbrokes Coral being fined £5.9 million and £1.6 million for UniBet.
The fines that affected these companies were relating to the firm’s failure to monitor gamblers with big losses and allowing people to continue betting, despite this. Some customers were promoted too quickly to VIPs and others have been able to take advantage of relaxed money laundering rules.
Casino bonuses and sign up free bets are huge in the industry and players must be wary of them and the ability to get sucked in too quickly. Many will be on the look out for new no deposit casino 2020 and other offers with free spins.
2020 could see further investigation into large online casino operators and issue fines for not staying on top of responsible gambling or AML laws.
Clamping down on children having exposure to gambling
Reducing the exposure that children have to online casinos is still very high on the agenda.
Various football teams and sports team have already been criticised, but odds during football adverts have been minimised and forcefully removed from any advertising on children’s TV channels.
There is also the role of social media, especially Twitter, which gives children under 16 too much exposure to online gambling.
In fact, recent studies show that match day programmes at football may contain too much gambling and may be removed.
Creating an ombudsman for gambling
Labour MP Tom Watson has been championing the idea of a ombudsman for gambling in the UK, similar to how it operates in the financial sector.
Reports show that there has been a 5,000% increase in complaints for gambling and casinos in 2019, sometimes from the individuals or their families who are very closely affected.
An ombudsman would make it more efficient to complain about bookmakers and receive compensation. Whilst it is no doubt an initiative for 2020, it may take several years to materialise. To complain about a gambling business, you can still apply through the regulator.
Emergences of new competitors
Despite criticism, there is a lot of confidence in the UK’s casino market and it continues to grow every year, particularly online. We may see the rise of smaller companies, affiliates and competitors such as Top Casino Bonus and Royal Bet who have made strides in the last year.