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The Future of the Gambling Industry in the UK

| December 5, 2018

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It is no secret that the United Kingdom boasts one of the most strictly regulated gambling businesses. As a matter of fact, there hardly is a country in the world that has a more regulated gambling industry than the UK.

According to 2017 data, the British gambling industry is worth £4.7 billion and has a total GGY of nearly £14 billion. What is more, over 100,000 individuals are working in the gambling business. Taking the aforementioned into account, it is easy to concluded that the UK is home to a flourishing gambling business.

However, regulators have begun to adopt an increasingly negative attitude towards the gambling industry, and there are even proposals to restrict gambling-related advertising as well as gaming machines.

Problem Gambling is a Major Driver of Change

As stated by British daily newspaper The Guardian, recent estimates show that Brits have lost more than £12.6 billion over gambling in 2017, which amounts to nearly £300 in losses per individual. On top of that, The Guardian has found that about 48% of all people who took part in a UKGC survey have admitted to taking part in gambling activities at least once in the past month.

What the UKGC has concluded is that more people are developing problem gambling behaviour – currently, about 0.7% of gamblers are registered as pathological ones; this is up from 0.5% in 2015. Nevertheless, the UKGC claims that as much as 5.5% of the questioned individuals are considered “at risk” gamblers, which is over two times more than the figure recorded in 2017.

About 2 million people are identified as problem gamblers or at risk of developing an addiction to gambling, which is a frustrating figure. According to The Guardian, the UKGC has warned legislators that they are not doing enough to deal with the problem.

Another British newspaper, Daily Mail, has found that the number of problem gamblers among children has increased dramatically, too. The Daily Mail states that as many as 55,000 children have turned into problem gamblers, which is four times more than the figure registered 2 years ago. Furthermore, another 70,000 children are considered “at risk” gamblers.

In addition, the UKGC believes that the spread of online gambling sites is the major factor responsible for the increased number of problem gamblers both among adults and among children.

Possible Changes to the UK Gambling Industry

As so many people have become problem gamblers, it is only sensible for legislators to impose tougher restrictions on gambling in an attempt to solve what slowly turns into a national problem.

The Remote Gambling Association has proposed two improvements, which are expected to protect gplayers from turning into problem gamblers. One of those is GAMSTOP, which is the nation’s first self-exclusion scheme.

In essence, GAMSTOP allows players to block themselves from online gambling sites operating in UK territory. Whereas it will take some time for the platform to include all gambling sites within itself, players can already ban themselves from the sites that are currently listed in GAMSTOP. In addition, the platform allows players to ban themselves for a period of 6 months, 1 year or 5 years.

The second proposed improvement has to do with setting a limit to stakes and even prizes.

Regulators have also developed increasingly negative attitudes toward gambling advertising. At present, the gambling industry is prohibited from advertising on channels aimed at young individuals, and it has decided not to advertise before 9 PM.

However, during live sport, neither rules nor voluntary decisions apply. According to a recent research, at least one commercial is broadcast during breaks in as much as 95% of all British football fixtures.

The Clampdown

According to the CasinoGuardian, gambling operators have not been cooperating, as a result of which both the Commission and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) had to take action against deceptive marketing practices.

Since April, bookmakers and gambling operators have been complying with the new standards for gambling adverts, which exclude adverts that imply a sense of urgency. In addition, actions are to be taken to limit youngsters’ exposure to gambling adverts.

The UKGC has expressed its desire to increase its powers and become able to fine different operators who do not comply with the rules set by the ASA.

It came as a surprise that some gambling companies have said that they also want more regulations for advertising. Companies who back more regulation are aiming to cut down advertising costs, as they believe that the industry has started to spend way too much on advertising campaigns.

In addition, executive director of the UKGC Tim Miller has included a warning in the latest UKGC statistics in which he announces that all gambling businesses need to be aware that as their business grows, so will the watchdog’s focus on making sure that all players are protected.

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