Author Name: Sebastian Scheplitz
As the conservative party scrambled to find a new leader amidst the departure of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson as PM, the UK gambling act review 2022 has been put on hold until Liz Truss gets comfy in her ivory tower.
Delayed for the fourth time, the UK iGaming market is on tenterhooks as to what the white paper will contain. The implications of tighter restrictions on bonusing and loyalty programs have been hinted at, causing panic to sweep casino VIP departments and frantic hairpulling within UK casino marketing divisions.
The UK iGaming Market is facing a tsunami of legislative change, but what exactly can operators and players expect? Let’s find out.
What Is the UK Gambling Act White Paper?
Originally slated for release in 2019, the UK gambling act review 2022 is a set of rules laid out by the UK government in regards to gambling legislation and, in particular, the protection of online gamblers.
The white paper regarding the UK iGaming industry’s latest updates is published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) of the United Kingdom, with MP Damian Collins being appointed Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy following the resignation of Chris Philp.
What We Know So Far
With the white paper in limbo, iGaming industry leaders and operators are left flailing in a conjectural void as to what the UK gambling white paper 2022 may contain.
The gambling review contains a total of 45 questions based on three key objectives.
While the majority of these questions are anyone’s guess, iGaming thought leaders and betting experts concur that the report will contain the following:
- Changes influenced by the development of new casino technology and how this influences player behavior
- The balance required for player freedom and harm prevention
- Protection of consumers at both online casinos and those playing at retail sites
- Legislative variance between casual players and high rollers
- Controls on gameplay factors – that include but are not limited to:
- Wager levels
- Speed of gameplay
- Prize limits
- Testing requirements
- Bonusing metrics relating to deposit/loss levels
- The investigation into the proliferation of white label casinos, currently numbering around 700, and whether these pose a risk to players
- Blockchain technology and the gambling sector
- UK online gambling and sports betting industry sponsorship
- VIP programs
- Free spin and deposit offers
- The introduction of mandatory safer gambling messages across all advertising
The UKGC will also be under scrutiny as part of the review as to whether it has ‘sufficient investigation, enforcement and sanctioning powers’ and if the UKGC’s current influence could be ‘used differently or more effectively’.
Black and gray markets will also come into question with the potential of a significant number of black market casinos emerging and the ease at which players can gamble at these virtual establishments.
In regards to stake limits, the latest leak suggests that slots will be limited to a maximum spin wager of between £2 and £5, Similar to how Germany does it with its latest regulation in 2022.
What the White Paper Means for the UK iGaming Market
Consequences for the UK Online Gambling and Sports Betting Industry cannot be understated.
Although the UK gambling act review 2022 is expected to be watered down somewhat, the expected influence the UK gambling white paper 2022 will have is far-reaching, affecting not only UK online casinos but also those based in Malta.
Further information garnered from the shelved white paper suggests that affordability checks, while being stringent, will be ‘non-intrusive”. A YouGov report discovered that only 16% of online casino players would be willing to supply documentation to facilitate such checks.
The mandatory inspection will scrutinize each player’s earnings, and customers will be mandated to provide wage slips to fulfill the new legislation. This not only runs the risk of the UK gambling industry slipping into that of a nanny state but could have consequences for falsified documents.
If – and this is a big ‘if’ – the white paper and its expected contents are signed off by Liz Truss in September, it’s highly likely that the UKGC and MGA will be provided with extra funding to combat gambling addiction. The UKGC is predicted to be permitted to set its own fees, with an increase in licensing the most probable outcome.
Sports sponsorship is also expected to be curtailed, with front-of-shirt advertising facing an outright ban.
UK online gambling rules and regulations could have the adverse effects of pushing players into the black market. Chief executive Michael Dugher of the BGC (Betting & Gaming Council) gives his opinion:
“We support the Gambling Review but there is a real danger that it leads to the regulated industry being smaller and the illegal black market growing substantially.
“This research is stark about the dangers of the black market. We have to learn lessons from abroad and make the right choice at this dangerous crossroads. BGC members alone employ nearly 120,000 people and pay £4.5bn in tax in the UK. The black market, of course, pays no tax and employs no one in our country.
“Any shift to the unsafe black market would also jeopardize the £350m a year which our members currently give to horse racing in sponsorship, media rights, and the betting levy – financial support which has proved crucial during the pandemic.”
The latest statistics for the UK gambling industry pitches the GGY (gross gambling yield) for 2020 at a staggering £5.89 billion ($6.77 billion as of today).
Indications suggest that the affiliate industry will be able to continue operations unfettered, but for how long is anyone’s guess.
However, affiliates need to be prepared for forthcoming legislation relating to content writing for the UK iGaming market with an emphasis on language used in relation to key terms.
The UK iGaming industry’s latest updates on the white paper will be welcomed by responsible gambling organizations and individuals negatively affected by online gambling.
On a global level, UK online gambling rules and regulations have long been the strictest, and commentators on the release of the UK gambling white paper 2022 predict that the industry will suffer considerably due to restrictions placed on operators.
The knock-on effects from a personnel level, especially in relation to VIP departments, will be catastrophic for individuals working in these occupations and are difficult to place in other positions, so they will no doubt face redundancies.
The UK gambling white paper 2022 – while addressing player concerns – seems obstinate in ignoring staffing issues for online casinos.
For an industry that was once left to its own devices, the restrictions now imposed go back to the classic ‘give with one hand and take with the other’ rhetoric so often experienced by UK players and operators.
The rise of crypto gambling and the approach taken to regulate decentralized platforms, or not as may be the case, has always been a thorny, if not impossible, task facing the UK government.
It’s a topic that goes far beyond pedestrian controls on bet limits and affordability checks but has influences that are beyond the control of not only gaming legislators but also major UK financial institutions.
The question we should be asking ourselves is not, perhaps, what the white paper contains but, due to the excessive delay, will it even be relevant at all?
This remains to be seen.
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post “UK Gambling White Paper Shelved, Again”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂