GamCare: UKGC Data Shows ‘Online Gambling Is Growing Issue’
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GamCare: UKGC Data Shows ‘Online Gambling Is Growing Issue’

GamCare: UKGC Data Shows ‘Online Gambling Is Growing Issue’

Not too long ago, the UKGC published its findings on its recently concluded telephone study titled ‘Gambling participation: activities and mode of access which was researched and created between September 2020 to June 2021. According to this report, online gambling has become a severe problem during the pandemic. 

During this survey, Gamcare sent survey questions to respondents about their betting participation. Overall, the survey discovered that the number of individuals taking part in at least one type of online gambling rose across all age groups during the pandemic, leading Gamcare and UKGC to caution the public and UKGC about the dire gambling situation in the UK.

According to the survey, the ongoing pandemic has transformed betting behaviors significantly and it remains unclear whether the situation will persist in the long term. The UKGC has come under fire in the last few months as a result of the excessive gambling that has been taking place. Many anti-gambling critics have condemned the industry claiming that it encourages excessive spending while exploiting vulnerable gamblers.

Experts suggest that there are just under half a million problem gamblers in the UK that have damaged their social lives thanks to debt and family breakdown. In severe cases, problem gamblers go on to commit suicide after being alienated from their friends and loved ones. Across the divide, the outrage over the severe problem gambling in the UK has resulted in a cross-party consensus that the industry needs to change.


Underage betting is also a thorny issue for the UKGC

It is no secret that the UK has one of the largest and the most successful iGaming markets in the world. The UK's real money wagering industry is worth a whopping £14.3 billion and growing. The population in the UK simply has a long relationship with betting; so much so that it is estimated that at least 50% of the adult population has attempted gambling at least once.

It doesn’t help that gambling has now become the canary in the coalmine for the UK’s economy, particularly now during one of the most challenging periods in our history. Gambling has been part of the UK’s society for so long that the practice has now become embedded into every facet of modern life including on TV, grocery stores, banks, high street, and of course, the beloved football teams.

As the national gaming regulator, the UKGC has done its best to regulate gambling in the UK. However, the challenges have been plentiful. One of the primary challenges that the commission has experienced is the control of underage gambling, which has become a real issue in the region.

As a result, the gambling commission has faced a lot of backlash from concerned parents and community members; and rightly so. The betting industry in Britain, in particular, has reportedly gotten out of hand especially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Over the last couple of months, Britain has reported a spike in online gambling among youth that are stuck at home longer than they would like.

According to data shared by the UKGC, close to 400,000 children between ages 11 and 16 wager regularly in the UK. The scenario has worsened in the current times with families stuck at home and online activity becoming the go-to source for both work and education. The UKGC has always been tasked with the responsibility of protecting both children and problem gamblers from the harms associated with online betting. 

To curb the number of underage gamblers that have been signing up for betting accounts, the government with the help of the UKGC has been tackling the issue with an initiative that was launched in March last year. In partnership with the Department of Education and the Social and Health Education program, children have been learning about the negative effects of gambling.

Already, the law states that gamblers must be 18 and older to sign up for accounts in the many online casinos available. The UKGC also worked to limit bonus offers that are typically given to new customers in an effort to limit underage gambling and consumer protections. Gambling operators are also now required to ask new account holders to provide identification that is verified by a compliance team before access is allowed.


What’s being done to remedy the situation?

As mentioned earlier, there is a consensus among the public and legislators that some much-needed changes need to be made. Parliament has been advocating reforms with politicians advocating for an inquiry into UK’s betting and the associated gambling-related harms. Specifically, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport as well as UKGC has been fully committed to the review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The Gambling Act of 2005 has not been reviewed since 2001 by Alan Budd. However, it is evident that the Gambling Act of 2005 is too outdated and needs to be reviewed so that it can fit the modern and highly digital age of gambling that we live in today. Since 2005, the gambling industry in the UK has advanced at an alarming rate thanks to the advancements made in technology.

When the Act was created in 2005, it had one primary mission; to create a safe and fair gambling environment that protects problems and underage gambling. The act was also created to enforce responsible advertising and prevent illegal practices such as money laundering. Most would agree though that with the growth of online and remote betting, maintaining a safe gambling environment has become a lot harder for the authorities. 


Final Thoughts 

In the past 3 or so years, calls for tighter regulations and restrictions have gotten loud, forcing the UKGC to set new rules and limits that have been designed to make the industry safer. Authorities have also been forced to review the Gambling Act of 2005, which will help to significantly solve some of the major issues being experienced in the industry.  Of course, the challenges will not be easy to solve with a mere review of the gambling act; but it is a great starting point. 

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