This year online casinos in the UK are seeing some major changes as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission makes moves to combat concerns following two distinct government reviews examining Responsible Gambling (RG) in the industry. The Commission has already announced a ban on using credit cards to make deposits on online casino sites, while other ideas are in the works for a changes in rules for casino payments.
Casino operators have already begun to make adjustments in anticipation of these changes and whispers within the industry about what this might mean for the future of gambling in the UK are buzzing. More importantly, conversations about solutions have also begun and are highlighting technology and innovations in an industry that has always adapted.
Starting in April, the ban on using credit cards to gamble became effective for all forms of gambling in the UK besides National Lottery tickets. Laws surrounding gambling in the UK haven’t seen any major revisions since the 2005 Gambling Act was passed, but these amendments come at a time when interest in online gambling is peaking.
Head Executive of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, commented on the recent popularity in the UK: “The ban also comes at a vital time as we are seeing an increase in the use of some online products, such as online slots and virtual sports, and our online search analysis shows an increase in UK consumer interest in gambling products since the lockdown began.”
In research cited by the UKGC, about 24 million people in the UK gambled in 2018 with 800,000 using credit cards to do so. Breaking it down further, it’s believed that as many as 175,000 of these players are high-risk gamblers who may have financial problems related to gambling addiction.
“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm,” said Neil McArthur, speaking on the specific risk of gambling with credit. “We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”
Change and Consequence
The decision to reshape regulations for online operators and bookmakers has drawn some criticism. After all, the recent changes on fixed-odds betting terminals cost William Hill £64m in the first half of the year. Some say tightening the rules casinos must follow will spell disaster for the local operators, driving players to less regulated markets and putting them at higher risk. The UKGC has emphasized that the well-being of consumers is its number one priority and it plans on reinforcing changes that have been made thus far.
Reviews from the Commission showed that in 2019, the CEO of online betting company Bet365 was Britain’s highest-paid company head, pulling in $423 million. The total revenue of the gambling industry in the UK was at £14.4 billion between 2018 and 2019.
Answers from Within
While motions from the UKGC have started to shift the future of Britain’s casinos, companies within the industry have still been doing what they do best–innovating. Using the most up-to-date technology, one particular business may have a solution to some of the RG problems with the changes in rules for casino payments.
Trustly, a fintech company that facilitates transactions between banks and online stores, has brought online gamblers a new way to play. Called Pay N Play, they’re style of direct payment method allows players to bypass verification and registration, making instant deposits and getting straight to the games. There is already a Pay N Play casino list available, highlighting the operators that currently allow this kind of payment method, but the number of online casinos offering Pay N Play is growing with each day.
This kind of secure, direct method of pay could help with concerns the UKGC is trying to address with stricter regulation, like limiting credit card use for gambling and age-verification, online and in-person. Samuel Barrett, Trustly’s Director of Gaming, speculated on this and a new product being developed by the Swedish company that would allow sportsbooks and casinos to take deposits instantly and transfer winnings into a player’s bank account, saying, “I’m positive that with what Trustly and other payment providers are trying to create to help operators go cashless, we will see retail businesses adopt by accepting more payments digitally and as a result improve customer UX, whilst becoming more operationally efficient.”