The United Kingdom has one of the richest gambling industries worldwide. In 2020, it was reported that the half-year gross gambling yield for the local industry was £5.9 billion or over 8 billion USD. Overall, UK’s gambling industry is estimated to be worth over £14.3 billion per year with around 52.3 percent coming from the online sector.
The UK has a long history of gambling and it’s one of the places that can be quite friendly with gambling companies. It’s also usually seen as a country model for gambling regulations. The Gambling Act of 2005 made gambling legal in the UK and since then, people have been participating a lot in gambling activities like sports betting and casino gaming.
Online gambling is now the preferred option of many people in the country and it’s easy to understand why. It’s convenient and so easy to find fast payout casinos. It’s no wonder why around 40 million people in the UK would gamble every year.
UK Gambling History
Gambling activities in the UK can be traced back to pre-history and early civilizations. People back then would place bets on horse racing and would play dice and card games with real money. It’s why this activity has become a part of British culture for many centuries.
It was in 1694 when the first government-ran national lottery took place. During this time, lotteries were common as it was a good way to raise funds for various projects. This was highly practiced until the 19th century. However, in the latter part of this century, concerns about the morality of the said activity grew, and eventually, commercial gambling was banned because of the Gaming and Betting Acts of 1845.
In 1960, the Gaming Act of 1968 was passed and it was only during this time that commercial casinos were allowed to operate. This marked the start of modern gambling. Online casinos came into the picture in the 1990s and eventually came The Gambling Act of 2005.
Before the Gambling Act of 2005 was introduced, casinos and sportsbooks were starting to become extremely popular that there was a need to update the gambling regulations in the country. The primary objectives of the Act are to ensure that gambling activities are not associated with crime, fair, and safe. The safety of the young and vulnerable population is also prioritized.
The UK government had to create a new body to oversee the purpose of the gambling laws in place and this was when the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) was formed. The UKGC today is responsible for monitoring both online and in-person gambling activities in the country.
The Role of the UKGC
The UKGC is definitely a busy body seeing how the gambling industry in the country is thriving. It has a lot of responsibilities including licensing, facilitating research programs, and teaming up with the country’s gambling companies to ensure safe and responsible gaming.
In 2019, the UKGC launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms in collaboration with a “wide range of partners”. According to the UKGC site, the goal of this strategy is to go further and faster in reducing gambling harms. They do this by upholding the licensing process with the objective to protect the youth and vulnerable people.
The UKGC also provides advice to the government when it comes to the prevalence and regulations of gambling and problem gambling in the country. In the last few years, the UKGC has implemented regulations that help control the gambling problems in the country.
One of these is when the use of credit cards is banned on both in-person and online gambling. This could help lessen the urge of people to spend money that they do not have on gambling activities. Online casinos are also now required to finish a 72-hour verification process to check on their customers’ identity and age. This way, no minors will gain access to gambling.
The organization is also aiming to implement stricter advertising rules for gambling businesses. Last year, the Minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS), Nigel Huddleston, talked about how licensed gambling operators have a key advantage over the underground market in the country because they are free to advertise their services on so many platforms.
Huddleston said that removing this advantage could help them and the UKHC ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way. The review of the current Gambling Act was then published before the end of 2020 and the next steps on how gambling advertising should be handled in the country are set to be released on a White Paper by the end of the year.