Most people involved with the online gambling and gambling industry in general are aware of significant regulatory changes on the horizon in the UK. Some of these new laws and stipulations have already come into effect, while others are in the works and their passage seems to be just a matter of time.
One thing is clear even without dissecting any particularities of the new regulations – gambling companies are in line to take a rather hard hit in various aspects of their business. This particular article will focus on the UK bookmakers and what some of these recent and upcoming changes will mean for them in the long run.
Stricter Money Controls
One thing that will probably hit bookies in the UK are strengthen anti-money laundering laws and much stricter controls of deposit sources. The UKGC has already issued a number of fines against the bookies who failed to implement these controls, resulting in people placing big bets with the money that didn’t belong to them.
In the past, bookmakers could pretty much turn a blind eye (if they so choose) and let players deposit as much as they like without asking any questions. However, new regulations are shifting the responsibility heavily on the bookies to make sure the money that is being used to play with doesn’t come from dubious sources.
This isn’t to say that legitimate sportsbooks want people to deposit stolen or ill-gotten funds in the first place, as most of them don’t. However, this will create additional expenses and delays in the verification process, especially with big players, which is bound to have an adverse effect on the bottom line.
Stricter Advertising Rules
UK bookies attract most of their new bettors through various advertising activities. This includes TV and Internet adverts as well as other forms of promotion such as pamphlets, billboards, etc. To make them the most effective, these adverts usually try to represent the bright side of betting, with big wins, smiling people, and lavish lifestyle.
Moving forward, bookies will have to curb their enthusiasm so to speak. New guidelines by the UK Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are very particular about what can and cannot be included in betting and gambling ads and many of earlier practices will simply not fly.
Creating suggestive ads where the underlying message is that betting and/or gambling somehow makes you a better person is a big no-no, and this is one line that’s rather hard to define. So, bookmakers will have to pay much closer attention when devising their marketing strategies to avoid hefty fines. Repeat offenders might even be in danger of losing their gambling licenses, so this isn’t something UK bookies, at least the serious ones, will take lightly. At the same time, changing marketing strategies to make their product less appealing could definitely reduce the number of new signups.
Increased Social Responsibility Demands
Apart from all this, all betting sites wanting to operate in the UK will have to take on much bigger social responsibilities. Together with the regulator and various organizations, they will be tasked with creating a safe and socially responsible gambling environment, once again under the threat of penalties.
This is a very broad area that encompasses a number of relevant aspects. One of them is making sure that no children or minors are enticed or allowed access to betting services. The UK Government is on a serious mission to reduce the number of problem gamblers and they believe, which is confirmed by various studies, that young people are the most susceptible to become gambling addicts. Therefore, bookies will have to take on their share of responsibility and help fight the problem.
Another area where the UKGC will be very strict has to do with self-exclusion facilities. UK betting sites must have a simple and easy-to-access self-exclusion process. Bettors wanting to exclude themselves must be able to do so with just a few clicks and without any interaction with the customer support or any of the bookie employees.
Furthermore, once a player self-excludes, the bookie must do everything in their power to prevent them from opening a new account and playing again. In the event they fail to do so, bookies can expect hefty fines to come their way, as shown by the recent example of Skybet, which had to a pay £1 million fine for failing to protect vulnerable customers.
Rough Times Ahead
With all these changes, it is clear that UK bookies are in for a rough ride. They will have to adopt some serious changes to their business models if they want to operate in the country and it is likely that by doing so, they will hurt their bottom line.
However, the UKGC and other relevant bodies are determined to see these changes through, so there is really no way around it. If they want to continue to offer their services in the UK, bookmakers will simply have to accept the new reality and find the best ways to operate within the new regulations.