Regulating Betting In the UK : An Overview

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Regulating betting, while a challenging endeavour, is imperative in order to ensure that both sides benefit in their transactions in the industry.

Gambling is big business in the UK. In 2014 it was estimated that the industry generates about £7bn in tax, which makes it a considerable force in the British economy. An industry worth so much draws money from a great number of sources and replies of many different people playing. In addition to ensuring that casinos and online betting providers are contributing their fair share to the country, the government is also tasked with ensuring that vulnerable people are tolerably well protected from the potentially devastating effect that out of control gambling can have on lives. This means that all purveyors of betting facilities which operate in the UK must act in accordance with gambling act of 2005, but what exactly do these regulations mean?

The gambling act of 2005 was the UK’s first attempt to regulate all forms of gambling and was a pioneer in regulating online gaming. To ensure that it covers all bases, all of the regulations are geared toward fulfilling three key stated aims: to diminish and degrade the relationship between gambling and funding or promoting crime, to ensure that gambling is conducted in an open and fair way and to protect children and other vulnerable parties being exploiting through gambling.

The first stage of regulation in the UK is licencing. Anyone who provides gambling facilities to the UK, whether they’re remotely operated or not must have at least one, and likely three licences issued by the Gambling Commission and in some cases, an additional licence from a local authority as well. To obtain and maintain a licence, purveyors must not only pay an annual fee, but also hold to sector specific guidelines. The guidelines are all encompassing and range from prescribing that arcade machines must alert management of errors, or what online games may be prohibited. This runs all the way from large, exotic casinos that would not look out of place in Vegas, to Bingo halls catering to local communities, to the main online betting operators in UK.

Additionally, gambling businesses are held to certain levels of responsibility when ensuring that all business conducted is legal. This includes anti-money laundering obligations. This means that Casinos are required to keep good records of all business conducted and recognise if someone is channelling money toward nefarious enterprises. Although, not all of the regulations are enforcement oriented. Regulations also govern the relationship between the client and the provider. For example, guidance is given on how casinos and online betting platforms settle disputes with clients.

Another large area of regulation is in social responsibility. This ranges from limits on advertising, restricting companies from glamourising their product and misleading potential punters to effectively preventing underage gambling. This means that in addition to IDing everyone and anyone who could be underage, they are also required to refuse service when a punter is accompanied by a minor. Additionally, casinos are not allowed to tailor their advertisements in such a way that it would appeal to underage people. In fact, they are specifically prohibited from advertisements which “reflect or are associated with youth culture”.


The social responsibility obligation of casinos is particularly interesting when specific clauses require them to participate in what could be considered thinly veiled attempts to discourage gambling. Though the 2005 act was passed before the extent of cashless payment in the modern world became clear, more recent guidance addresses the responsibilities of casinos when spending large amounts of money quickly has become unnervingly easy. In response to this, there is a requirement for casinos to limit the amount of money that can be spent, ensure cool down periods and not part with too much money in a single frenzy. A similar requirement is for casinos to offer help, support and advise to people looking to quit gambling. The process of self-exclusion is one in which an individual bans themselves from gambling for a period of 6 months. As a result, casinos are not only required to enforce that ban, but also to not direct any marketing material whatsoever to the person involved and punish any staff that try to work around this. Although it may seem contrary to the company’s interest, it is one of the most important facets in the 2005 regulation act.

Despite the importance of gambling in the British economy and the entertainment that it brings many people, it is also potentially one of the most destructive industries that operates within the UK. Fortunately, the government has installed appropriate regulation which, may seem heavy handed in certain areas, brings a lot of safety and security to an enigmatic industry.


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