Why Are UK Facing Casinos Are Feeling the Heat?
Most of the country’s online casino players probably don’t even realise, but times are changing in the UK. The country’s regular, the Gambling Commission, has initiated an unprecedented crackdown over the last few months. The systematic overhaul of gambling practices has had far reaching and often dramatic effects. Some online casinos have stopped directly advertising to British players, while others have done very little adapt to the recommendations imposed upon them. It’s an interesting time, and it’s not over yet.
UK Gambling Commissions Regulations
The UK Gambling Commissions has forged a reputation as one of the strictest regulators in the industry. Online casinos need to work hard to secure a license to operate in the lucrative UK market and those who have successfully done so now face a new set of challenges. The Commission is clearly tired of some of the more controversial elements of online gaming practice. They’ve now gone on the attack.
Ultimately, the Commission wants to ensure that uk online casinos and gambling platforms treat players fairly. They’ve questioned whether current marketing campaigns are transparent enough, and if sites are as forthright as might be when explaining onerous terms and conditions. The changes also target casinos who are considered attractive to under age players, and those who don’t do enough to deny children access. These are sweeping recommendations, and they’ve been implemented at pace.
Impact on Online Casinos
The first raft of recommendations were released towards the end of 2017. Casino bonuses found themselves under significant scrutiny as the Commission expressed serious concern regarding the way that these bonuses are marketed. As many players will know (but some, perhaps tellingly, won’t), the advantages of most bonuses are diluted by the terms and conditions which are attached to them. All too often, the Commission argued, these terms are not clearly communicated.
The concept of wagering requirements is an obvious reference point. This point of contention is the most commonly used method casinos use to reduce their exposure to potential losses. Some sites have been better than others when informing players about these terms. The Gambling Commission argued that all should fall in line, and either remove the requirements altogether it make it crystal clear that they exist.
The attack on wagering requirements segues nicely into another of the Gambling Commission’s target. The term ‘free spins’ has been part of the online gaming lexicon for as long as most of us can remember. However, following the recent changes, the very term itself has been called into question into the UK. Are ‘free spins’ really ‘free’ at all? The country’s regulator clearly doesn’t think so much of the time.
They’ve argued that ‘free spins’ can only be described as such if they are free of wagering requirements, not pegged at the lowest stake amount (as most are) and your potentials winnings from them are unrestricted. It’s a rare free spins offer that lacks any mitigating terms, and the Commission knows that. As a result, several online casinos have already changed their practice. BGO are calling their new no-wagering free spins ‘Fair Spins’. Guts talk about ‘Extra Spins’. The best casinos know they need to change if they want to stay in the UK market.
Doing it For the Kids
More recent changes have placed other marketing techniques under the microscope. Many adult players may not have given a second thought to the cartoon graphics adopted by many online casinos, but the Gambling Commission certainly has – and the response is far from positive.
They consider this type of design to be attractive to children as it muddies the boundaries between traditional computer games and gambling. The Commission consider that unacceptable, and some online casinos may now be forced to stop directly advertising to UK players. All casinos and affiliated marketing sites must also plaster ’18 Only’ signs all over their site as part of the shake up.
Future For UK Online Casinos
The recent UKGC changes represent the most prolonged and significant reshape of UK gambling guidelines since the market was regulated. Some online casinos have given up their UK license as a result, and others will surely follow.
For any site that draws a huge amount of business from Britain, the stakes are high and many have adapted to processes to maintain their credibility. Others don’t seem to have done much yet, but with the Commission threatening to enforce the guidelines having engaged the support of the Advertising Standards Agency, it may be a case of ‘adapt or die’.
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