Should Sports And Casino Be Treated Differently Under Gambling Laws?
Since 2005 the gambling industry, driven largely by tech, has changed enormously leading to a shiny new Gambling Act Review where regulators are expected to draw up a reformer’s shopping list of proposals to overhaul gambling laws and enhance the original act.
Incoming legislation, which had been due in the autumn of 2020, is likely to lay out new guidelines for all manner of restrictions within gaming and is likely to be a blanket proposal for all verticals of the industry.
But should the new rules really treat all aspects of gaming the same or is there a case to be made that there is enough difference between, say, sports betting and casino gambling that they warrant separate attention?
What Can We Expect From New Legislation?
It is likely that the new legislation looks into VIP programs and loyalty schemes offered by gaming operators, as well as tools designed to help with problem gambling such as self-exclusion options and online stake limits.
Of course, stake limits have already been imposed on in-store fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and it is thought that a potential £2 limit for online slot and table games could well be enforced also.
Presently, gamblers can bet an unlimited amount online even though there is little difference in the games available to the FOBTs on the high street where the maximum stake has been cut from £100 to £2.
But then the majority of gambling addiction actually comes from casino gaming anyway and not from betting. On average, you can suffer much heavier losses far more quickly playing games of chance where the house has the edge, and the games are always weighted against you.
This is different from betting where it is possible to find an a positive edge through hard work, and utilising sporting knowledge or trading through betting exchanges, etc.
Basically, and this goes for poker too, there is room in the methods of execution to employ skill when gambling in order to manipulate and improve your chances of success in a way that simply doesn’t apply to casino games, particularly slots, the most popular off all the casino games online.
If this is the case, then is there the need to govern online gambling verticals differently?
Possible changes under review might include:
- Limits on online stakes
- Limits on prizes
- Strict affordability checks
- Operator sharing customer data
- Ban on sports sponsorships and the removal of logos on football club shirts
- Legal cover for punter disputes
- Strict testing for new products
- Enforced levy for gambling addiction treatment
Sometimes Different, Sometimes Same
One area where sports betting and casino gaming can be treated as equals is incentives. Free spins are offered to encourage play in the same way bookies will often offer a free bet.
Although, generally low, these can be dangerous for bettors with gambling problems so expect caps to be put on the size of the free bets offered, or even a ban on the term free bet.
But are stake limits really required when betting? While you will lose more than you win, betting can be an informed act and, as is likely, proof of funds, could well soon be required by law and if a bettor can afford it, then perhaps that is their business.
These affordability checks, like other new measures, are a good thing and a wise move for all manner of gambling activities but, given that certain forms of gambling – Casino Products, Slots and Games – are more risky than others, surely they should be treated differently by the Government, the UKGC or the UK gambling industry’s lobby group, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).