Big news hit the UK gambling scene this past Thursday. The government announced significant changes in response to concerns about smartphone and app addiction in the £14 billion ($17 billion) industry.
Rising Popularity of Online Gambling
COVID-19 did a number on many industries, but online betting and gambling companies like Ladbrokes, Coral, Paddy Power, and Betfair saw profits soar during these trying times. This increase caught the attention of regulators concerned about gambling addiction for years.
It took a while to get things rolling on this issue, but with rising suicide rates among addicts and mounting debts allowed by companies, it was high time for action. Even Premier League football clubs decided to cut ties with gambling sponsors and removed their logos from players’ kits for three seasons!
Smartphones and apps played a massive role in attracting new gamblers by making it easier than ever to spend money on games. TV ads promoting up-to-the-minute odds didn’t help slow down the growth either.
So what’s changing? They’re capping online stakes between £2 and £15. Companies will also gain more power to shut down illegal betting sites that have been popping up lately. Bonus offers will face restrictions, too – especially for those under 25 who need extra protection from addictive gambling habits.
These companies weren’t exactly helping matters when they let players rack up tonnes of debt without addressing problem gambling issues head-on – something they’ll have to change now.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer summed it up nicely: “When gambling becomes an addiction, it can wreck lives. Shattered families, lost jobs, foreclosed homes, jail time, suicide.”
With these new regulations in place, companies must invest more in research and education around problem gambling and addiction treatments for players. They’ll also have to conduct thorough background checks to keep customers safe.
One of the changes includes limiting online slot games to match their land-based counterparts. But fear not, companies won’t be left high and dry – the Gambling Commission will provide resources to help them tackle these issues head-on.
Is It All Happening Too Slowly?
Despite companies giving a thumbs-up on these new regulations, activists reckon the government’s been dragging its feet on purpose. Louise Davies from the Christian Action Research and Education charity said: “With further delay, families of the bereaved and people locked in the teeth of addiction have been snubbed yet again […] We need legislation.”
So there you have it, folks. Keep an eye out for how these changes shake things up in the UK gambling world!