Earlier this week, the UK government announced that it would finally make a comprehensive review of the UK Gambling industry and in particular, the 2005 Gambling Act.
Gambling companies are expecting that the government may put restrictions on the amount a casino player can bet per spin on popular online slots such as Rainbow Riches. If this was to happen, it is likely that revenues of gambling companies, online casinos in particular, would decrease. Online slot games remain one of the most popular forms of gambling in the United Kingdom.
Ian Proctor, The UK Chairman of Flutter Entertainment which is the parent company of online gambling giants, Paddy Power and Sky Bet told the BBC that he thinks gambling rules do need to be updated for the digital age, he said:
“We take [problem gambling] incredibly seriously, but let’s also get this in a little bit of context.
“For millions of people every week, they enjoy a bet, it’s a leisure activity, it gives people a lot of pleasure. For some people it’s not, for a small minority. And we need to make gambling safer for those people.”
Whilst it is clear and obvious that the chairman of one of the biggest gambling companies in the world would prefer any new Gambling Act to not be too strict on online gambling, it is not a secret that a large portion of the UK population enjoys gambling. Therefore, it seems to be the case that the UK government needs to find a balance on rules surrounding UK gambling.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston stated that the review should strike a balance between individual freedom and protecting problem gamblers. Earlier this year, the former Labour MP Tom Watson who was one of parliaments loudest voices for gambling reform, joined Flutter entertainment as its advisor on problem gambling.
The gambling lobby within the UK remains strong so it is unlikely that any changes to gambling laws in the UK will affect the largest companies too drastically. On the other hand, The Guardian has called for the Gambling Review to be free of industry influence and political dithering.
Online Casinos in the United Kingdom
The online casino market in the UK is one of the largest in the world. Currently, any gambling operator that wishes to offer its services to the UK public, must receive a license to do so from the UK Gambling Commission.
The gambling industry in the UK has been regulated since the 2005 Gambling Act came into law. Regulating the industry ensures that online gambling in the country remains safe as the UKGC watchdog ensures that all operating casinos are trustworthy and fair. However, since 2005, the gambling in the UK has moved predominantly online which is why UK parliament and safe gambling bodies would like the Act to be updated so it fits the modern age of online gambling.
Slot games at online casinos remain popular for UK punters. Some online slots allow players to bet up to and beyond £200 per spin.
In May 2020, searches for the term ‘online casino’ reached an all-time high. The majority of searches were performed by casino players in Hull followed by Stoke-on-Trent and finally Bradford. HSBC UK stated that between January and April of this year, more than £16.5 million had been gambled on HSBC credit cards. Credit card gambling was given a blanket ban in April 2020.
There are murmurs that the review will clamp down on sports betting advertisements on both the television and on the shirts of football teams. Currently, over 50% of Premier League football teams have a shirt sponsored by a betting company whilst all sports even broadcasted on the television in the UK will showcase numerous betting companies.
The huge popularity of the Premier League means that football betting is one of the largest gambling markets.
Gambling Revenues in 2021
Despite the news of the launch of a comprehensive UK gambling review, share prices of the largest gambling operators have remained stable. Politicians have discussed for several years now that they will look into the gambling industry, so a review is not a surprise.
The UK gambling industry also generated hundreds of millions of pounds per year to the UK treasury in the form of taxes. Unless taxes on gambling companies are raised, if gambling companies lose out on revenue then so will the treasury.