You have been locked out of your betting account. Perhaps you tried to place a bet at a bookmaker that was later suspended by the governing body. Maybe you tried to access your account at a site that does not accept UK customers, or at a land-based sports bookmaker that closed its doors for business reasons. Ultimately, you will find yourself in a frustrating position where you cannot access the accounts you’ve diligently built up over the years. It’s a common situation, and one that could have been easily avoided.
The UK Gambling Bill
On June 4th 2019, the UK government published its draft legislative proposals for the gambling industry. Now that the proposals have been published, they can be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny and challenge, particularly as more stakeholders are able to take part in the consultation process.
One of the most significant changes brought about by the proposals is that all gambling operators must become licensed, placing a significant burden on bookmakers to comply with the regulations. The UK Gambling Bill also seeks to tackle some of the major concerns surrounding problem gambling by establishing a new agency, the Responsible Gambling Trust, which will be tasked with overseeing the work of licensed operators. These are all very positive steps if your primary concern is to ensure that you gamble responsibly.
On the other hand, there are some very negative proposals in the UK Gambling Bill that could affect both online and land-based gaming. One of these is Clause 47, whereby the government will seek the power to prohibit any person from possessing ‘gambling devices’ as defined by the Gambling Act 1975. This could include software that facilitates gambling, as well as certain objects that have been designed for use in gambling.
Suspension Of Gaming Licences
One of the biggest problems for bookmakers and other online gaming operators across Europe is the threat of temporary or permanent licensing suspension. The issue of licensing suspension came to the fore after the UK government imposed a moratorium on new gaming licenses in January 2020, stating that it would “not be appropriate” to issue any further licenses until the country’s exit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government’s stated reason for the suspension was to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19, but the reality is that the pandemic had already begun to take its toll on the UK’s gaming industry before the moratorium was even announced. As previously reported by us, one of the largest video gaming companies in the world, Square Enix (previously known as SquareEnix, Inc.), had its UK operation suspended after the firm failed to meet the criteria for a “small business” license. This effectively shut down the company’s operations in the country, including Final Fantasy Online, a massively popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) that was developed specifically for the region.
No UK Based Licensing Authorities
Another significant proposal in the UK Gambling Bill is the abolition of the UK Licensing Authority, leaving it up to individual bookmakers to self-regulate. This follows a similar move by the Dutch government in 2020, which handed responsibility for regulating gaming in the country to the Kanswersraad. The UK Licensing Authority had previously overseen the regulation of gaming in the UK, but this was taken over by the Gambling Commission following the government’s decision to cut the organization’s budget by 82%.
It is anticipated that the proposals will be introduced for debate in the House of Commons in early July. We will keep you posted on any further developments concerning the UK Gambling Bill.