Gambling is big business in the UK. Over £14.4 billion was spent in the gambling industry in 2018 and this includes 8,406 betting shops, 644 bingo premises and the 152 casinos physically located in the UK. But the vast majority of this total was spent online through online UK casinos and UK sports betting. And this makes the umbrella of operating in a regulated betting market an extremely important one for everyone concerned.
What Does Regulation Mean?
The UK has one of the more liberal gambling markets in the world. Still, every operator wanting to offer customers in the UK betting opportunities must apply for and receive a licence from the regulator – the Gambling Commission.
There are many different forms of online gambling including bingo, sports betting, casino games and the lottery (funds from which go into sports nationwide). Regulation simply means that the operators running them hold the necessary licences from the appropriate regulator to run them in certain countries or regions. They must have demonstrable responsibility in advertising, data protection, gambling policies and player protection, as well as having a recognised procedure for complaints and customer service handling.
Pros of Regulation
Controlling operators – Regulation ensures that only those with the best reputations and service are allowed to enter the market. Governments or regulators will establish regulatory guidelines and benchmarks to ensure each operator is a trustworthy and responsible operator.
ID checking – Strict identification checks are put in place to ensure players are age appropriate and that the online operator itself doesn’t misuse or abuse the service for fraudulent activities.
Paying out – Regulation ensures much safer laws and rules for paying out to players. This includes certain expectations of payouts and support for players. For instance, a Redbet review has demonstrated what acceptable levels for operators are, as it includes three levels of customer support, as well as offering expected payout times of within a few hours for most payment methods (in addition to the Redbet welcome bonus). This is much more difficult to monitor or enforce in non-regulated markets.
Responsible gambling – Online gaming legislation actually allows, to a certain extent, the monitoring of a players’ online gambling tendencies, which should allow them to highlight at an early stage any overt gambling problems.
Cons of Regulation
Let’s face it, there aren’t any realistic criticisms of having a regulated betting market, but not every regulated market is perfect either.
Potential irregularities – Even regulated markets can be openly abused. This has been evident in tennis, cricket and football match-fixing issues across a number of countries as well as the influx of non-regulated operators attempting to entice customers.
Taxation – Governments can earn large amounts of money through the taxation of the industry and this can be counter-intuitive to supporting, monitoring and upholding responsible gambling practices.
Responsible gambling – Because of the rise in gambling popularity, there has also been a rise in gambling problems too. Online operators have the ability to track potential problem gamblers, but even with this technology (and legal requirements), questions persist over this conflict of interests.
Betting in regulated markets is always more acceptable than having unlicensed operators in the business who fail to protect customers by not having the necessary national or regional operating licences. While regulated markets increasingly offer more support to players, it is also a double-edged sword as it brings in significant revenue through taxation too. Protection for gamblers is vital if the market is to be healthy and successful and, as such, regulation is certainly worth pausing for before having a punt on the horse racing or the latest round of GAA action.