How does the UK regulate online betting sites?


A well regulated betting market is an entirely different beast than one that is not properly regulated. As recent news reported by Betfree shows, Irish sports betting sites will soon face more licensing, bonus and advertising regulations. Regulation is particularly important to the betting market for a multitude of reasons, and they won’t do it alone. Regulation must come from elsewhere. With that in mind, today we’re going to look at some of the most important ways the UK regulates online betting sites, from fairness in the games themselves to data protection and advertising restrictions.

We’ll take a look.

  1. Justice

For the needs of players, one of the main means of regulation of online betting sites in the UK concerns fairness in games. The UKGC ensures that all betting sites run games that give bettors a fair chance of winning, and that they are not essentially being asked to hand over their money.

The house edge varies depending on the type of game you are playing, but for things like slots it should be between 5 and 10%. In addition, out of £100 wagered by a bettor, at least £96 must return to them in play for the site or game to be considered fair.

These principles of equity would not be in place without the UKGC.

  1. Data protection

Data protection is an issue in all cyber and digital activities today. We are all more concerned than ever. Every day, small and medium businesses in the UK face around 4,500 successful breaches of their private servers. This puts you at risk if your data is not handled correctly by the betting operator.

The UKGC ensures that all betting sites comply with the regulations set out in the Data Protection Act. This means that your financial information, along with everything else, is stored in such a way that it is not at risk in the event of a hack or breach.

This is really vital for a safe online betting market.

  1. Advertising

Advertising has always been one of the most important elements of gambling regulation in general, and it has become even more important in the digital age. As a general rule, the UKGC requires gambling operators to advertise in a ‘socially responsible’ manner. It may mean different things at different times, but, for example, advertising should not attempt to appeal to children or minors. The power of advertising can be seen when looking for free bets in the UK, companies offer big bonuses like £20 free bets at Ladbrokes, and punters can register on multiple sites.

Future regulations may seek to ban things like sports team partnerships with betting sites.

We don’t allow tobacco companies to advertise, and alcohol should only advertise responsibly, so the logic is easy to understand.

  1. Self-exclusion programs

In recent years, another requirement imposed by gambling regulators relates to self-exclusion programs such as Gamstop. This is a means by which gamblers and problem gamblers can restrict themselves, for a period of their choosing, from using any UKGC licensed online betting site. The UKGC currently requires any licensed operator to participate in Gamstop.

These types of programs are another very important step in the right direction, as almost 250,000 people in the UK are known to have problem gambling, with a further 2 million at risk. Self-exclusion programs are really important in solving this problem.

There are clearly a number of essential ways for the online betting market to be regulated by the government. Without these protections, bettors would have no guarantee of fairness in the games they play, adequate protection of their sensitive data, and the general public would be exposed to irresponsible advertising practices. Even if the regulations are not perfect as they stand, it is a good start.

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