The COVID-19 pandemic altered the course of many industries and the habits of many people around the world. After everything was shut down, people looked for alternative ways to continue doing what they had always done. The gambling industry in the United Kingdom was no different.
The Gambling Commission sought to amend gambling laws and guidelines in the country in response to the increase in people who turned to online gambling during the pandemic. Because of easier access to online casinos and more screen time, they decided unhealthy habits were developing among gamblers.
To learn more about what these changes mean to residents of the United Kingdom, you first have to understand what laws actually changed. Keep reading to discover how the gambling industry changed in the UK and if other restrictions are on the way.
How Did Gambling Change in the UK in 2021?
Once the Gambling Commission was able to recognize the trend of the increase in online gambling that occurred during the pandemic, they decided that stricter regulations were needed to ensure the safety of everyone involved. This is why they set forth in the motion to create committees to review certain areas of the current laws about gambling.
Some of these stricter regulations came into play starting in 2020 to help protect citizens from gambling money they did not have. One of these guidelines was the banning of credit cards during online gambling activities.
At the beginning of 2021, however, the commission released further information guidelines they were seeking to enforce. Much of these restrictions were focused on slot-related games that gamblers often played.
A few specific features of this type of gambling the new guidelines seek to banish are:
- Game features that are designed to increase the speed of play
- Spin speeds greater than 2.5 seconds
- Autoplay features
- False sense of a win through sound and pictures on a screen
Another area that the commission is seeking to help control is the online advertising industry as they relate to gambling. This is because the advertisements, which often show up on television as well as social media, can expose vulnerable people as well as underage individuals to the world of gambling.
Additionally, loyalty schemes that are designed to entice more VIP-related players by offering incentives to keep playing were given more stringent guidelines such as not allowing anyone under the age of 25 to participate in such activities.
Is the UK Going to Further Restrict Gambling in the Future?
The government of the UK doesn’t even want to end there, as they think the level of gambling within the country is unhealthy and will need to be restricted even further in the future.
As an example, it is being discusses that certain age restrictions should be in place to prohibit younger people from being able to gamble in many ways. Prior to these restrictions, individuals that were under the age of 18 were allowed to purchase national lottery tickets. However, under the new guidelines, they would not be allowed to do so.
Even further restrictions are expected to come into effect after they are reviewed. Some of these restrictions apply to reverse withdrawals which allow gamblers to use their winnings to reinvest into continuing play. And checks by the government to be sure a player has the funds to gamble before he or she is allowed to engage in gaming of any kind.
With these guidelines and more possibly to come, the Gambling Commission’s goal is to ensure that online gambling remains safe and fair for all involved. This is why they have increased regulations and have insisted that gambling sites include age verification processes as well as other safety measures.
These changes currently only apply to regular gambling sites, but many warn that this could be the beginning of similar changes within the industry of sports betting. Increased regulation may be on the way, since an uptick in gambling has occurred in recent years especially due to the pandemic. These trends are just beginning to grow and could be subject to restrictions in the future.
Esports is another area that has become increasingly popular recently and gamblers have begun to take notice. While this is a fairly new area when it comes to betting, steep regulations could be in order for this space too.
UK Attempted to Block Many Gambling Sites in 2019
Over the years, many employers have taken steps to ensure that productivity within working hours is being adhered to in many ways. One of these ways was to monitor and/or block sites that were deemed unproductive or unprofessional in nature.
In previous years this was mostly to prevent the unsavory acts of viewing such things as pornography, participating in gambling, or even the lesser shopping during the workday. Although these sites were blocked by the employers’ server, many of these attempts were still recorded and sometimes reported to management.
In 2019, in the UK, it was reported that the Department of Health during the latter part of 2019, had less than 100 attempts to access online gambling sites. However, during the months of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, the number hit an all-time high reaching over 2,000 attempts to access these sites.
In most of these cases, the attempts to access these sites while they were noted, were not specifically investigated on an individual basis. This is because many of them happened while the employee was at home, just on a work issues computer. Instead, many cases were reported to the management of these specific employees as violations of the acceptable use policies.
The main reason for this increase in accessing gambling sites, as well as other unprofessional sites during the workday is that people were working from home seemingly unsupervised. As a result, they felt a sense of freedom, and likely boredom drove them to attempt to access restricted sites. It’s a bit ridiculous however, that this has reached the level, where the government is considering blocking sites, rather than simply encouraging a discussion between employees and their managers.
In general, the pandemic brought about many changes throughout the United Kingdom and around the world, but the future restrictions coming to gambling do not look good. Not only will they restrict freedoms in ways never seen before, but they will make it difficult for citizens to enjoy one of the few pastimes that can be experienced at home during a pandemic.