Impending UK Gambling Regulation

Gambling regulation in the UK is under constant revision and is always undergoing change. The perception of gambling has, historically, undergone a lot of shifting viewpoints, and so it isn’t surprising that the laws must be always updated to reflect the most up-to-date sensibilities. Today, we are on the cusp of a good deal of new gambling regulation in the UK—everything from sports betting, to slots, to advertising is under review. There are a number of highly significant new regulations coming in the near future, so let’s look at some of the biggest and most impactful.

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1. Online slots features

One of the biggest changes that online slots are currently undergoing affects a broad range of features on the games. The main changes are going to be the banning of four key features. Firstly, any feature which accelerates play, or gives the play the illusion that they can control the outcome.

All slot spin speeds must be at least 2.5 seconds—anything shorter is banned.

Auto-play features, which play without the input of the gambler and can cause one to lose track of their play.

Finally, any sound effects which give the illusion of a win when the pay out is in fact lower than or equal to the original stake.

There are other changes coming into effect, too, such as the requirement to clearly display the total wins or losses. The feature to allow players to regamble withdrawn winnings has also been banned. Withdrawn winnings will be withdrawn and cannot be spent again.

Online slots can be a big sticking point for problem gamblers, since they are easy to get somewhat lost in. aAound 45% of problem gamblers in the UK have amassed debts of £5,000 or more, and slots are a big contributor to that figure. One of the main driving forces in the revision of UK gambling regulation is the rapidly advancing digital age, and the Gambling Commission has stated that it hopes its new laws can keep up with the changes that the age brings.

2. Sports advertising

Another impending change to the UK gambling regulation is around sports advertising. Many EFL and non-league football clubs have recently written to the government urging them to ban all betting advertising during football matches. Estimates suggest that, during a Premier League game, viewers are exposed to some form of betting advert for Premier League betting sites like these every 7-10 seconds. Whether that be an ad on the sidelines or during half-time, this is clearly a staggering amount.

Impending regulations would see that frequency significantly reduced. Whether an outright ban will come into effect any time soon is not clear. For better or worse, there is an enormous amount of money to be made for both sides in advertising betting through football games. Most would argue that their ban would be the socially responsible thing to do, but it won’t be achieved without significant opposition.

Ultimately, though, betting companies are uniquely positioned not to be able to stop regulation on their industry. The social harms which poorly regulated gambling can cause are clear to see, and no amount of lobbying can really change that.

But the regulations coming to betting in football don’t stop there.

3. Football partnerships

Of the 20 teams in the Premier League, 9 are currently sponsored by one betting company or another—almost half, companies like William Hill sponsor teams like Spurs. With this figure in mind, it becomes a bit easier to understand the above on how frequently betting adverts are seen during football games. There’s a very good chance one or both of the teams you are watching are sponsored by a betting company.

Impending regulations seek to ban outright these partnerships, as well as things like ad campaigns featuring famous players from the teams. Again, this initiative is aimed at reducing the exposure people have to gambling advertising. One of the longest standing gambling regulations has been the admonition that advertising should be carried out in a socially responsible way and should not appeal to the underage. It’s easy to see how young football fans could be influenced by such sustained exposure to betting adverts.

By banning these partnerships, the overall exposure to gambling advertising would be enormously reduced—as many as 26 million people tune into the Premier League coverage. This is around 40% of the population.

Gambling, broadly speaking, is something which requires a certain amount of social responsibility from those offering the service. Problem gambling can be a big issue in the UK, as I’ve mentioned, and so it’s important that operators take a certain amount of responsibility for this in their practices. However, we can’t really rely on them to do without the law guiding them in the right direction. The laws we have looked at here hope to address some of the social issues caused by gambling.

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Written by S Dionne

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