The Compliance Challenges for UK Gambling Operators in 2021

The UK gambling market could be said to have enjoyed a state of relative tranquility and smooth sailing since the 2005 Gambling Act that forever changed the gambling scene on the British Isles. However, 2020 has been a tumultuous year for the industry in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic, whose impact and reverberations are going to be felt for years to come.

The coronavirus has impacted the changes in the gambling regulations in the UK to some extent. However, the updates we have seen come into power in 2020, and changes looming in 2021 are directed towards ensuring customers are protected and AML laws are upheld more vigorously. 

Stay with us as we take you on the tour of the major changes that took place in 2020 and changes expected in 2021.

The UKGC Regulation Updates from 2020 

There were several momentous occurrences in the gambling landscape of the United Kingdom, and one of the biggest ones was the ban on the use of credit cards for gambling the UKGC imposed on all operators. The aim of the ban was to ensure players don’t gamble more than they can afford to lose, and even e-wallets need to provide assurance the means on the players’ accounts did not come by way of credit cards. 

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns meant people were bound to spend more time at home, and there was a fear of more people turning to gambling than usual. According to the reports from the UKGC, those numbers actually did not increase at the expected rate. Still, the regulators imposed tougher affordability checks and put restrictions on bonus offers for vulnerable customers

Moreover, the UK Gambling Commission made it mandatory for all online gambling operators to partake in the national self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP in a bid to prevent problem gamblers from getting into more trouble. 

Finally, as of October 2020, operators are required to perform stricter checks on VIP players’ vulnerability, affordability, occupation, and other aspects before giving them the VIP status and prompting them to play more. Given how betting giants Betway and Caesars Entertainment had to pay over £20 million for breaking the verification and AML rules in 2020, it is expected that operators will be more careful in the future. 

The Updates to Gambling Regulations Expected in 2021

Her Majesty’s Government has launched a set of new rules and propositions that are going to take effect in 2021 and subsequent years. The main objective is to tackle the changes that the ever-expanding digital age is bringing. 

At the heart of these changes are stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers, social responsibility, and other aspects of player protection. 

There are some critical changes all gambling businesses need to prepare for that are bound to take effect in 2021. Those are the new age threshold for the National Lottery and tougher gambling advertising rules and online stake limits

The minimum age for playing the National Lottery will change, and now all players need to be at least 18 to play it. The move is justified by the rising number of youngsters indulging in online gambling activities, and the new age threshold aims at curbing those numbers a bit. 

Also, gambling companies will now have to pay more attention to any promotional campaigns that might make gambling more appealing to children, such as football sponsorships. 

What Does the Future Hold for UK Gambling Regulations

It is safe to say that gambling regulations are only going to get tougher in the coming years. With the digital age comes greater danger for vulnerable groups, so the UKGC wants to make sure operators go through tougher checks before receiving their licenses. They also want to ensure that the players’ sources of funds are fact-checked more thoroughly, so that they are not in danger of falling into debt because of gambling.

New and stricter rules on bonuses and betting limits are also expected, which will undoubtedly cause some problems for the operators. Nevertheless, in the long run, all will be forced to follow the rules or face expulsion from the market. 

Jan 25, 2021