UK Licenced Online Gaming Sites to become Safer

UKGC aims to set precedent for safe online gambling sites.

UKGC Review Focuses on Safe Online Gambling SitesFor years, the online gambling industry has operated on a ‘shoot first, ask questions later‘ mentality. By that, I mean that online casinos, poker rooms and betting sites incorporate a very minimal ID validation process for new players and deposits. It’s not until a member actually wins, and tries to withdrawal their money, that a supremely strict verification process takes place.

That could soon change at any online gambling site that holds a licence in the United Kingdom. Regulators there are determined to make the iGaming space safer for gamblers, and it could have a snowball effect on many more jurisdictions to come.

The UK has one of the largest iGaming markets in the world. Any operator that wants to accept UK punters must obtain a licence from the UK Gambling Commission. They may also obtain other jurisdictional licences to operate elsewhere, but just having a UK licence means their entire operation must follow the UK’s guidelines.

And, being considered a pioneer of strengthening regulatory standards, other jurisdictions could begin implementing similar changes to their licencing directives. The end result will hopefully be a safer space for iGaming all over the world, where players are truly protected.

“The proposals we have announced today are intended to protect children better, reduce the risks to vulnerable consumers and build on the measures we already impose on operators to know their customers and intervene at an earlier stage before consumers experience harm,” said Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur in a statement.

UK Focus on Safe Online Gambling Sites

Last week, the UKGC released a highly anticipated review of gambling regulations. The document dealt largely with social responsibility. Some of the recommendations gear towards land-based betting, and others towards the internet variety.

In particular, the UKGC wants to tighten regulations on Terms and Conditions of internet gambling sites. Many of the current stipulations were found to be unfair. They relate to things like account closures, dormancy fees, withholding of balances and refusal to pay winnings.

By current law, so long as the T&C states the operator can do something, there’s nothing stopping them. The UKGC is looking to change that, providing strict guidelines for what operators can and cannot put in their T&C.

Extensive Identity Verification & Stake Limits

As it stands now, a player can get from point A (signing up an account) to point B (placing real money bets) in under 5 minutes. If the UKGC enforces its new recommendations, operators would be required to obtain, and verify, a lot more information about their players before they can start using the service.

The UKGC believes this will solve a number of existing issues. It would help prevent minors from gambling online, stop bettors from betting with stolen money, and provide stricter measures for problem gambling prevention.

One recommendation that is surely going to be recognized is a limit on account balances and betting stakes. Limitations on deposits and account balances would be enforced, pending an ‘affordability’ check. High rollers could increase their limits, but they may still find themselves out of the loop. The UKGC is also going to impose max stakes limits, which could land anywhere from a £2 to £30.

The review is recommending a limit of “£30 or less”. Chances are it will come in much lower. That decision will be left in the hands of Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock, who many believe supports the low-end limitation of £2 max stakes.

“It is vital that the remote sector demonstrates that the risks associated with remote gambling are being managed effectively and comprehensively,” reads the UKGC review. “If they fail to do so, the case for imposing controls on stakes and prizes comparable to those on gambling products posing similar risks in the land-based sectors will be very strong.”

Limiting land-based and online gaming sites to £2 wagers on the slots would not be a bad thing. However, it could stifle the viability of other games like roulette. Many roulette fans like to spread chips all across the table, and with a £2 limit, there would be little attraction in the potential payout for these wagers. Only Mr. Hancock can decide if this is an affordable price to pay for safe online gambling sites.

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