Internet gambling is a tightly regulated industry across the globe. In UK, the Gambling Act 2005 was introduced on September 1st, replacing legislation dating back as far as 1845 and governs nearly all forms of gambling. The main aim of the act is to protect children and vulnerable people, whilst cutting crime and keeping games fair. Critics have suggested that the legislation will lead to a rise in problem gambling, with casinos, bookmakers and online betting sites now able to advertise their services on TV and radio for the first time. It has also led the possibility for a £1m bingo prize and a lift on casino restrictions, such as customers no longer needing to be members.
Britain’s £91bn gambling industry is now regulated by the Gambling Commission, established in 2005. The Commission will have the power to levy unlimited fines, withdraw licences, bring prosecutions, enter premises, seize goods and suspend and void bets. As of 1st September, British-based operators need to gain a Gambling Commission license and abide by the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice – which includes requirements to ensure all operators promote socially responsible gambling. According to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, which has responsibility for gambling, key changes to the industry’s regulation include:
- Bingo clubs will be able to offer rollover jackpots. Questions on phone-in quizzes on TV and radio must be harder. This is to prevent pay-to-enter phone quizzes that are too easy operating as if they were lotteries and therefore evading limits on stakes and prizes and the legal requirement for licensed lotteries to give 20 per cent of profits to charity.
- For the first time, betting shops and remote gambling sites based in the UK will be governed by a dedicated regulator, the Gambling Commission.
- Local authorities will be able to impose sanctions on operators, including limiting opening hours and reducing numbers of gaming machines.
- Gambling operators will be required to display prominently information about responsible gambling and how to get help for problems. They will also have to work proactively to prevent underage gambling and contribute to problem gambling treatment and research, education and public awareness.
- Local people will be able to object to new gambling licenses and seek reviews of existing ones.
- New codes governing advertising come into force, requiring ads to be socially responsible and banning the use of models under 25 or linking gambling to sexual success.
- Adverts from outside Europe that fail to meet the UK’s strict regulatory requirements will be banned.
- TV advertisements will be allowed for the first time, but subject to a voluntary 9pm watershed (with the exemption of betting ads during sports events).
- The membership requirement on casinos is lifted.
- Betting cheats, including sportspeople, will face a two-year jail sentence.
- UK-based betting operators will be required to pass information to sports bodies to prevent cheating.
- Gambling debts will become legally enforceable, helping to ensure those who win get paid.