How the UK Gambling Regulations Have Affected Online Betting

How the UK Gambling Regulations Have Affected Online Betting

There has long been a complicated relationship between government regulation and gambling in the UK. The development of online gambling, and the subsequent sky-rocketing in sports betting – took this to a new level.

This tense relationship is still constantly evolving. In April, the British government set out a white paper detailing a major reform of gambling laws, to protect vulnerable smartphone users.

Let’s take a closer look at how gambling regulations have affected British betting in three main areas.

Advertising Restrictions

This has long been a hot topic, particularly as awareness of problem gambling has risen.

Unsurprisingly, since it’s the nation’s biggest sport, football has been the centre of the debate. Specifically, that debate has centred around shirt sponsorship for years now. In April 2023, Premier League clubs finally voted to ban gambling brands from their shirts.

In general, bookies have to tread a very fine line with all adverts they put out. Not only can’t they be accused of ‘false advertising’; they also need to be very careful about appealing to minors. Just recently, a Ladbrokes advert was banned for attracting under-18s, for what – at first glance – might appear fairly innocuous reasons.

Responsible Gambling

This is one initiative everyone can get behind. A number of responsible gambling initiatives have been launched over the years, by both the government and private interests. GamCare is arguably the most famous example, which provides free 24/7 support to anyone who needs it.

Nowadays, it is a legal requirement that all bookies licensed with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission sign up to GAMSTOP. This is a self-exclusion scheme, which helps problem gamblers to take a break from betting, or stop it entirely. If you self-exclude using GAMSTOP, you won’t be able to use any licensed bookies at all.

Remote Gambling Tax

Very few ‘British’ sportsbooks are actually based in the UK, with Bet365 being a rare exception. Most are headquartered in more tax-friendly jurisdictions, like Gibraltar or Malta.

Remote Gambling Duty seeks to ensure that British-facing bookies still pay tax in the UK, wherever they’re actually based. Specifically, it taxes ‘remote gaming played by a UK person regardless of where in the world the provider is located’. The tax rate was previously 15%, but was raised significantly to 21% in April 2019.

How Do Regulations Affect Bettors?

You likely already knew that even the best betting sites in the UK were highly-regulated. Getting a licence from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission is no mean feat, after all.

What you might not have known, however, is the extent to which regulation is constantly changing. As we’ve seen here, that has already applied to advertising standards, responsible gambling measures, and – perhaps most notably to the bookies – taxation.

Generally speaking, most regulations affect the betting industry itself, rather than the actual bettors. That said, if sportsbooks make significantly less money – due to either reduced advertising, or increased taxes – that could certainly have a knock-on effect. It could see a reduction in the number of new bookies, or the closure of older ones whose profits suffer. We’re not at that stage yet, of course. But the speed of regulatory changes only seems to be increasing.

With problem gambling on the rise, it’s also entirely possible that we see further measures under the umbrella of ‘responsible gambling’. These could well be restrictions on punters’ gambling. It’s perfectly plausible, for example, that limits could be introduced on the time you’re allowed to gamble, or the money you’re permitted to spend.

These are speculations for now, but one thing’s for certain. UK gambling regulations are changing quickly, and this will inevitably have an effect on the online betting industry.

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