UKGC wants to improve the Gaming Industry in the UK
UKGC wants to improve the Gaming Industry in the UK
Gambling in the United Kingdom continues to experience an extreme makeover thanks to a three-year corporate strategy designed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). The UKGC says that gambling within the country is responsible for contributing no less than 7.7 billion GBP to the UK economy in 2019. That total coming from betting shops, casinos, and online gaming sites licensed to operate in the UK.
More on the UKGC
The UKGC was formed in 2005 as part of the Gambling Act. The regulatory body establishes and enforces commercial gambling regulations throughout Great Britain and also controls the National Lottery. The gaming industry in the UK is one of the largest operations in the world. For the pre-pandemic 12-month period between April 2019 and March 2020, the total gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Great Britain was 14.2 billion GBP. That equates to approximately US$20 billion. As a comparison, the state of Nevada reported a GGR in 2019 of US$12 billion. The UKGC has the responsibility of regulating the over 10-thousand brick-and-mortar betting locations and casinos that dot the country. However, COVID-19 has forced the closure of many of those locations. Also, a ruling in 2018 that limited the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting machines to 2 GBP from 100 GBP brought the end to many betting shops. But there is a silver lining as online gambling continues to take hold in the UK, and iGaming operators are able to attract a whole new range of customers. According to the UKGC, online GGR during the 12-month pre-COVID period was up 8.1 percent with a total of 5.7 billion GBP.
The Five-Step Plan
The UKGC has formulated a five-step plan that will spell some big changes to the gambling industry. The goal of the plan is to embrace flexibility and change to meet the continuing evolution of the fast-changing industry. Along with this are provisions to ensure a competitive bidding process is in place for the next National Lottery license. Here is a breakdown of the five “Strategic Objectives” being used to direct those objectives:
1 - Protect children and vulnerable people from being harmed by gambling
2 - Create a fairer market and educate consumers
3 - Keeping gambling crime-free
4 - Optimize returns to good causes from the National Lottery
5 - Improve gambling regulations
If these goals sound familiar, they should. The key issues being addressed here are much the same ones the UKGC targeted in their first three-year strategy plan revealed in 2018. The UKGC says the 2021 update is meant to build upon achievements made to date and implement policies developed over that period. The five-step plan also takes into account the ongoing review of the gaming industry in the UK that is being facilitated by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS). One of the goals of the DCMS is to consider the power and resources of the UKGC and how they can be utilized to better regulate the industry. According to the UKGC, “We expect the DCMS review to conclude partway through the life of the strategy, so we must balance the need to make progress while remaining flexible to adapt to the outcomes of that review.”
What they had to say
UKGC Chairman Dr. William Moyes said, “We understand that the gambling businesses we license will need to adapt and respond to the demands of their consumers. But in evolving products and services, consumer protection must be at the forefront of businesses’ minds and plans.” As for the National Lottery, Moyes stated, “Given the innovative and fast-moving nature of the gambling industry, and our intention to help the National Lottery go from strength to strength, our regulatory approach cannot stand still. We need to adapt to live up to the international reputation we have earned as an effective regulator.”
Some of the changes in place
Several key components form the bulk of the changes to gambling in Great Britain. They include the following:
1 - A complete overhaul to gambling regulations
Dating back to 2020, the UKGC has been working with three different working groups tasked to create new measures that would result in a reduction in the rate of gambling problems that have developed. Each group had a specific focus - making gambling safer, changing gambling advertising guidelines, and amendments to loyalty programs to prevent regular gamblers from developing gaming problems.
2 - Restrictions to making online deposits
Gamblers in the UK have not been able to use their credit cards to make deposits to online casinos or make withdrawals since April 2020. The restriction also applies to payments through digital wallets. The purpose of the ban is to reduce potential harm to players and reduce the risk of some gambling with money they do not have. Considering that 20% of those who use credit cards to gamble have gambling problems, this rule will likely remain.
3 - Changes to VIP programs
The UKGC implemented changes in 2020 to how gamblers qualified for VIP programs. One of the first changes was to limit these offers to players 26-years of age and older arguing that players 25 and under are in a demographic with a high percentage of gambling problems. Also, the eligibility for VIP Programs was changed to a much stricter set of guidelines and a detailed screening process.
4 - Underage gambling prevention
According to the UKGC, close to 3-percent of children aged 11 to 15 years old are considered to have gambling problems. Electronic Know Your Customer (KYC) measures have been put in place to provide checks to verify the identities of players. These measures have assisted in keeping underage gambling out of the online casino system.
5 - Improving the safety of online slots
Since there are no particular skills required to play online slots, this game has attracted a lot of new players. New guidelines include a change in spin speeds to slow play down with auto mode and other fast-playing features prohibited. This is meant to prevent players from losing a lot of money in a short period and also enhances gameplay overall.
The UKGC has a reputation to maintain as one of the best gambling regulators in the world. To keep that status, and ensure gambling is safe in Great Britain, the regulatory board is going to continue with changes made in 2020 with a five-step plan that will be implemented in 2021 to keep gambling safe for all.
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