Controlling Online Gambling in a Digital Age

The ease and convenience of loading up online casino games eclipses what is possible in the real-world gambling scene. With cheap high-tech smartphones and tablets becoming widely available, casino games are accessible anywhere, to anyone who can prove they are of online gambling age. For fans of fast-paced casino games, there is nothing that can really compare to what online casinos are bringing to the table.

Of course, the enhanced access to gambling brought about by such sites can also lead to some difficulties for vulnerable players. Players vulnerable to problem gambling endanger themselves, their loved ones, and even their communities, due to their unhealthy relationship to gambling.

Guest author Joe Booth looks at how to control online gambling in a digital age.

One of the main reasons why you need to control online gambling is because problem gambling has become a very serious issue in several countries including the UK. Now, the proportion of problem gamblers to healthy gamblers is generally quite low in the developed world but for problem gamblers and their loved ones, the adverse impact of this disorder can be severe.

Sites With Strong Responsible Gambling Policies

One of the best ways players can protect themselves is to find out more about the online casinos on special slots reviews which have robust responsible gambling policies that give players access to self-exclusion tools.

Regulators Moving Toward Hard Caps, Blanket Bans

Gambling regulators around the globe have worked hard to ensure that the rise of online gambling should not endanger vulnerable players.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has long stood at the forefront of this fight. Most recently, the regulator made waves for banning the use of credit cards for gambling purposes. The UKGC justified this move, arguing that it would decrease the risks of mounting gambling debts for problem gamblers. They also eliminated fixed-odds betting terminals from bookies.

The UK government is currently consulting with a number of gambling stakeholders to further limit online casinos. Some of the more notable suggestions being considered are a blanket ban on gambling sponsorships and advertising, hard caps on casino budgets, and instituting new casino game rules that slow the action and limit jackpot amounts.

Unlicensed Sites Waiting in the Wings

While problem gambling is undoubtedly a serious issue, some experts have argued that enacting harsh bans on the online gambling industry may actually lead to effects opposite to what was intended.

For instance, by setting a hard cap on the amount of money a player can spend gambling in a month, some fear that they – especially high-rollers – will have no problem switching to an unlicensed casino that imposes no such limits.

In such cases, potentially vulnerable players will still continue to gamble online. But since licensed sites will not have the kind of action they want, they may just head over to the hundreds of unlicensed sites around, who are more than willing to take their bets, notwithstanding their risks for problem gambling.

Taking a more hard-line approach to regulating online casinos could then backfire, as vulnerable players would be more protected in a licensed gaming environment. Driving them to unlicensed sites could therefore bring them closer to harm.

In the UK, for example, unlicensed sites are quite common. The latest numbers on the matter suggest that almost 5% of UK gamblers have played at an unlicensed site, and 44% are aware of unlicensed online casinos. If the UKGC continues in their current approach, some observers fear that UK gamblers will simply switch to these black market sites, instead of dealing with the UK regulator’s stringent rules.

Big Data Key for a Targeted Problem Gambling Approach

To avoid the problems that come with rigid regulations, some experts suggest that governments look into more technology-oriented approaches, which will allow for more refined policies when it comes to helping vulnerable players.

For instance, instead of a monthly wager cap, governments can ask online casinos to use algorithms to distinguish between gamblers with lots of money to spare and gamblers who are inching closer toward unhealthy habits. The algorithm can tag potential indicators of problem gambling – such as failed deposits or several self-exclusion periods and intervene.

This kind of responsiveness to individual needs will definitely help online game risk assessment, instead of punishing an entire player base. Many gamblers enjoy the thrill of betting big. It is their right to enjoy doing so, as long as they can prove they are doing so in a sustainable manner. If problem gambling really is the main issue, using a more sophisticated, targeted approach toward stopping it may just be more effective in the long run.

Gambling regulators and players will have to work together to impose necessary controls that will allow online gambling to be a pleasant experience and not a painful one!