Posted by Harry Kane on Friday, December 3, 2021
There’s no doubt that online gambling is one of highest growth entities in the UK, with a cumulative value of £6.9 billion as of March 2021. This highlighted year-on-year growth of 18.4%, while iGaming evolved to claim more than 39% of the industry’s total yield. As the UK market has matured, however, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of risks facing online gamblers.
This is borne out by the increase in sanctions and regulatory measures imposed by the UKGC, which are direct responses to failures in compliance and the issues facing vulnerable players in 2022. But what exactly are the main risks facing online gamblers? Here’s our selection of the primary considerations.
#1. The Rise of Rogue Casino Operators
The iGaming market in the UK has been disrupted by novel and innovative startups, who have sought to compete with market giants and claim their own small share of an increasingly lucrative market. This is why the size of the mergers and acquisitions market within the gambling space is huge, as established brands and parent companies respond to competition by acquiring or incorporating the brightest startups.
This has encouraged a growing number of startups to enter the marketplace, including rogue operators whose aim is to steal customer’s identity and (in some cases) withhold their hard-earned cash deposits. Most worryingly, rogue operators and fake casinos are increasingly capable of looking like legitimate gambling brands, from the design of their websites and the games’ library to the range of payment methods permitted.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways in which you can identify rogue casino operators or sportsbooks. The first relates to payment methods, as scam websites are more likely to include largely prohibited options like credit cards (which were outlawed in April 2018) and questionable e-wallets. On a more fundamental level, all casino operators are required to display their relevant licensing credentials from the UKGC.
This should be displayed prominently on the site’s homepage, while the brand’s details should also be listed on the Gambling Commission’s main regulatory website. So, if you find yourself at a casino where you can’t find any licensing credentials (either from the UKGC or the Malta Gaming Authority) on an operator’s website, you should leave the platform immediately and seek out an alternative.
If you’re unsure, take to the Internet and check out independent reviews online. Sites such as Trustpilot can be incredibly insightful in this respect, as you can learn directly from first-hand experiences and make an informed decision in a relatively short period of time.
#2. The Lack of Customer Protection
When the UKGC first announced its core strategic objectives through 2021, the main tenant of this was the aim to adequately safeguard vulnerable players in the UK. There was good reason for this too; as operators were struggling to comply with the new UKGC regulations and failing both in their attempts to prevent money-laundering through their sites and ensure that problem gamblers were identified and given actionable help.
Both factors pose a challenge to gamblers, particularly as developing problem gambling behaviour can lead to increased losses and spending that far exceeds a player’s individual means. This translates into a highly impactful risk, albeit one that’s statistically low when you consider the stagnant level of problem gambling in the UK.
To negate this risk, you’ll need to adopt a proactive approach and make the most of the responsible gambling tools available in 2022. We’d definitely recommend setting personalised deposit limits, for example, which should be established in line with your bankroll to ensure that you never bet more than you can afford to lose each day, week or month.
If you’re struggling to manage your activity and bankroll over time, you may also want to take a break and register with the GAMSTOP initiative. This enables you to remove yourself from all gambling sites and accounts for between six months and five years, creating a blanket ban from both gameplay and the receipt of direct marketing. By embracing these measures, you can overcome a lack of uniform player protection and proactively safeguard your own interests going forward.
#3. The Issue of Isolation
If you’ve ever gambled in a brick-and-mortar location, you’ll know that this is an inherently social experience that allows for corporeal interaction and socialisation. This arguably softens the harsh realities of brick-and-mortar gambling, while the fact that many casinos also operate a wider entertainment complex means that there’s ample opportunity to take breaks away from the various slots and tables.
The reverse is true in the case of online gambling, however, with this borne out by the numbers. As gambling participation rates have increased to 21% in the UK, for example, we’ve also seen the overwhelming majority of players start to wager from home. More than 50% of UK gamblers now also wager regularly using their smartphone, with the majority of this demographic doing so either at home or during the daily commute to and from work.
With these points of mind, there’s a danger that online gambling and sports betting can create a sense of isolation among players. This can also be compounded by the accessibility of online casinos and sportsbooks, which encourage people to become increasing introverted and spend more time wagering by themselves.
This has potential societal dangers over time, particularly when you consider that the average online gambler is becoming younger with every passing year. With trends such as the Metaverse and crypto gambling also creating increasingly insular wagering experiences, this may create further issues in the future too.
It’s also harder to play some casino verticals online. Take poker, for example, which is an interactive game that usually requires players to benefit by reading the body language of their opponents. The same advantage doesn’t exist online, making it much harder to make informed decisions and win regularly over an extended period of time.