Whichever way you look at it, the Coronavirus pandemic had some positive effects on the online casino industry worldwide.
Although land-based casinos may have taken a hit on punters coming through the door when they were forced to close, this was made up for in the number of people who turned to iGaming in order to be entertained. There are several reasons why the online casino industry grew so much in 2020, but various stay at home rules throughout the world would certainly have contributed. With places like New Zealand still having periods of strict lockdown, it makes sense that people use online services for entertainment. It isn’t just online casinos that saw growth during this time – Zoom calls have become somewhat of a norm and people relied on internet streaming services to watch TV more than ever. With movement restricted and a lack of socialising opportunities outside of the home, it was industries like the gambling industry that stepped up to the mark and did everything they could to capture this new market of customers.
The Regulation of Online Casinos
Although the UK is quite strictly regulated now, we were late on the uptake compared to much of Europe. There are different ways to partake in gambling throughout the UK and all of them have their own rules and regulations in order for people to be able to offer them as a service. As things get more popular and/or technology changes the way people use them, regulations are often adapted to suit the current audience. For example, The National Lottery age limit was recently increased from 16 to 18. This was down to the access of National Lottery tickets and scratch cards online and in shops. As they become more accessible and it was likely younger people would start to gamble, the age was changed to make it more regulated. Online casinos and indeed land-based casinos are no exception – they all have to be regulated in order to legally operate within the UK. The regulations that they have to abide by are monitored and changed regularly depending on how technology is evolving and how the market is responding.
Casino Use Over the Last 18 Months
There is no denying that online casino use has increased over recent months, which is probably what has led to a review of gambling regulations. The UK Gambling Commission are keen to promote gamble responsibly culture and as such, often tweak and change rules to help this be the case. For example, in land-based casinos and betting shops, the amount of money that could be spent on a slot machine and how quickly it could be spent was changed a couple of years ago. This was as a result of statistics showing that people were spending more money on slot machines and perhaps more than they could afford in some cases. As such, this was restricted further to ensure that being a responsible gambler was something that was being encouraged.
A Change in Gambling Restrictions
With the increased use of online casinos and the ever-evolving technology behind these, it makes sense that the gambling laws will need to catch up with this. In the past gambling laws have been predominantly about what is and isn’t allowed in land-based establishments, but this way of thinking is now a little outdated. As such, in December 2020 the Government announced that they would be looking at the restrictions in place by the Gambling Commission to ensure that all gambling laws are fit for the digital age. This certainly isn’t the only sector that needed to have changed the way it operates and what it does for its customers based on a switch to using digital products instead?
Initially, it was thought that the increase in the minimum age for National Lottery tickets, a change in online stake limits and a review of the powers that the Gambling Commission has would be enough for the restrictions to keep up with the iGaming industry. However, industry insiders are now wondering whether these will be reviewed again soon due to the continued increase in online gambling revenue.
Some companies have reported record numbers of transactions within the first half of 2021. This means that although 2020 was a big part of the growth for the online casino industry, this growth shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. As displayed by this list of slot sites in the UK, there is constant competition in the iGaming market meaning operators often resort to bonuses and promotions to entice new customers and as such, the UK Gambling Commission and the Government need to make sure that this is regulated and everyone is operating as they should.
What Changes Might They Bring In?
Although it is hard to say exactly what they are likely to bring in, it is likely to be around casino operators needing to ensure that the people using their services do so responsibly. This will mean things like even stricter affordability checks and watching for patterns where it might indicate someone is betting even though they can’t afford to. Stricter ID checks are likely to come into play too – to ensure that the people who say they are using the accounts are the people that actually are.
Stricter rules may come into play about how much can be bet at one time or even how many games can be played in a session, to encourage people to take a break from online gambling and not spend too much. The iGaming industry isn’t going anywhere soon and it is likely that the growth will continue as technology adapts and games become even more exciting and accessible to play. But it will mean that there will need to be strict regulations in place to make sure that everyone taking part is doing so safely and without risk, including casino operators who will want to make sure that they are operating in the correct way.