To many, ‘regulations’ is a swear word – especially when it comes to the remote gambling industry. Most casino managers and software developers dread increased regulation, such as the POC tax or mandatory licencing, as it means less freedom, new restrictions and establishing rules that must be followed. However, it isn’t always bad news for everyone involved, especially the players.
You may think that regulations don’t directly concern you, as it’s all for the purposes of legality or simply to generate more tax revenue for the government. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are five reasons why the increasing levels of rules and regulations of the remote gambling industry in the UK is great news, not only for the casino stakeholders, but also for the players themselves.
1. Increased and Continued Innovation
Stagnation and lack of progress can wear down and destroy even the most successful casino business. Just imagine how hard it is to keep a large player base interested if you never offer them any new games, promotions or loyalty scheme incentives. That’s why increased regulation is great news, because it brings increased and continued innovation not only within individual casinos, but in the industry as a whole.
Whilst online and mobile casinos continuously compete with each other and try to come up with new products (e.g. novelty games) and promotional offers, they might not be as incentivized to keep up with it if it wasn’t for the increases in regulation. More specifically, the introduction of the POC tax on the profits of all casinos providing services to UK customers means that the casinos have to make more money to make back the money they pay into the public purse.
Healthy competition among casinos is also given a boost, which subsequently results in the casino managers raking their brains as to what they can do better than the others, and what special offers they can give their players that other casinos can’t. Although the casinos might be directly chasing profits, they indirectly start thinking more creatively and reinvent their current offerings and products to appeal to their players – all thanks to increased regulation and taxation.
2. Curbed Illegal Gambling
This one may seem controversial. Superficially, logic dictates that the more regulation you impose on any market sector, the more illegal activity you will generate. However, underground gambling at unlicensed casinos haven’t increased after the POC tax was introduced. In fact, their numbers are believed to have shrunk, which begs the question – how on earth can that be?
Let’s rewind to the very beginning. Before the introduction of the new tax and increased difficulty for remote casino operators to gain licencing in the UK, industry representatives made their case. They said that taxing the casino profits and making them obtain licences would promote illicit casinos setting up shop, unwilling to jump through all the regulatory hoops.
However, it appears that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has done a splendid job at making sure all casinos providing services are licensed, enforcing the license conditions, taking regulatory action against the casinos that are found trading illegally and keeping intelligence on potential illegal remote casinos. This has put off those who wished to make a quick buck, curbing and even reducing the illegal gambling problem.
That’s great news for players, because they can rest assured they are playing in a safe environment whenever they see the UKGC logo on the website of a casino and double check the licence number with the organisation (if they wish). Since the repercussions for operating unlawfully are huge (e.g. merciless closure, monetary fines and even criminal charges), less and less illegal casinos dare to set up shop.
3. Improved Safety & Fairness
This point relates back to previous one. Increased regulation means that the licencing bodies develop stricter guidelines of the safety, fairness and overall customer protection, and carefully control the implementation of them. This doesn’t only mean operating legally and paying taxes, however. The protection of customer funds, the safety of the gaming environment, fairness of the games and many more aspects of remote gambling are all improved with increased regulation.
It comes as little surprise that more regulation means more rules that need to be stringently followed by the casinos in order to maintain their licences. If the industry weren’t regulated, or were regulated to a much lesser extent, there may not be certain safety and fairness measures in place. For example, just imagine if the monetary transactions didn’t have to be encrypted. This would potentially cause havoc, making payments insecure and totally unprotected.
Furthermore, if there wasn’t a regulation specifying that games must be tested to ensure they produce random winning outcomes, the casinos could simply rig their games to make you lose much more money than win. In such case, the Return to Player (RTP) wouldn’t be an optimistic 95%, but perhaps an 80%, producing some hefty profits for the casino. In summary, heightened regulation makes sure that companies behind casinos stay on top of the most recent safety and fairness technology developments. Ultimately, it is also most useful for their business to be perceived as a secure and fair place to gamble.
4. Well-Developed Complaints Procedure
Many players don’t realise they have a safety net when it comes to disputes, thanks to the increased regulatory environment in the remote gambling industry. Before, when the casinos could be licensed and operated from anywhere in the world, if any complaints or disputes arose, it was often a hopeless cause to try and prove you are right. As there were no set arbitration organisations, usually the decision of a casino was final, even though not always correct.
Simply imagine this scenario: you won a £10,000 mobile casino jackpot, but the casino refuses to pay out, saying that you won it whilst cheating. You would complain to the casino, but they would come back to you saying that they disagree and cite their terms and conditions, that the decision of the management is final. Then, you would be stuck because you’d have no way to take your complaint any further or prove that you weren’t cheating.
Now, for casinos to be licensed in the UK, they must bepart of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS). This means that if you aren’t happy with the decision of the casino for any reason, you can lodge a complaint with the IBAS. You have to present them with a clear argument and any evidence that you may have, and independent (not belonging to the casino) adjudicators will decide on your case. Much fairer, isn’t it? N.B. that the decisions of IBAS are final.
5. Advanced Social Responsibility
Last but certainly not least, the social responsibility of casinos is greatly enhanced when the industry regulation increases. To some, this may be the ultimate convincing argument as to why increased regulation is good. Since it helps those people who are in trouble because of their gambling or those simply prone to problem gambling, social responsibility is key when it comes to creating a healthy remote gambling environment.
Before, online and mobile casinos were off the hook when it came to providing their players with social responsibility tools, such as self-exclusion or restricting the amount that one can spend gambling per day. Of course, some casinos still offered them, but it wasn’t mandatory. However, with increased regulation came increased demands that casinos are first and foremost socially responsible, to protect the small percentage of people who are vulnerable to problem gambling. And with a universal self-exclusion database coming soon, the regulatory bodies are doing their best to keep the casinos toeing the line of social responsibility.
The true scale of the benefits of increased regulation is much larger than the five points mentioned in this article. Although one may instinctively think that all rules and regulations are bad – as they hinder creativity, free movement and independence – the truth of the matter is that remote gambling is a business. Where there is (a lot of) money to be made, there need to be rules to not only protect customers, but also to encourage healthy rivalry.