Published on 31/10/2019
Do you remember the "good old days"? It was around the year 2000 and the online gambling industry in the UK was a gold diggers paradise. A place where the online casinos were making fortune and fair play rules were easy to break. All you needed was a relatively cheap Maltese licence and some budget for advertisement.
If you knew how to get around, Facebook was easily to be abused, Google algorithm was easy to crack and players protection was not what it should have been.
The lawmakers changed the game, local UK online gambling licences were issued and the UK Gambling commission (UKGC) got really huge competencies. The early stage focus was to improve players protection, quit money laundering and protect the vulnerables. Witch hunt began and companies such as William Hill or 888 have be "awarded" with multi million fines. To what I can see, some companies got stuck in the Good old days and a wake up buzz was more than necessary.
Recently the payers go through strict age and identity verification, the self exclusion process is working and money laundering through gambling is almost non existent. We have also seen some steps that were not so successful. The most important to me is the warning. As ruled out, the "beware of gambling" (or similar information) displayed by the gambling products have no or very little effect on gamblers behavior. I guess a good lesson has been learned.
Things are hardly ever clearly good or bad. Indeed the UKGC is doing or are about to do things that can be rated as over-regulation. Towards the end of 2019 has been started a discussion over loot boxes, which can be regarding the UKGC qualified as gambling. In the case you don't know what a loot box is: Imagine you are playing some strategy game and are about to improve your armor.
You can chose to go for straight for the armor or you can decide to buy a loot box. After you open the loot box, there might be some really good stuff or some useless feature. The game itself has nothing to do with gambling but the loot box is from the definition gambling.
We at Spincastle used to display a lots of information about UK casino bonuses. This is from our point of view a really helpful information and helps the player to decide. Recently we are not doing it as much. Why? Things got complicated. We basically have to write huge amounts of mostly useless text, where we write the full terms and conditions. Another option is to link to the full terms and conditions as you see in our UK casino comparison.
The way we are presenting it is simplified but still legal. It is quite harder to do a bonus review. The biggest obstacle is that some casinos only let us use their "lawyer approved" wording of the bonus description and that is simply not acceptable for Spincastle's critical reviews.
Social gaming and free casino games is supposed to motivate people to play for real money in UK online casinos. As UKGC ruled out, from May 2019 the free to play casino games are only to be played after age verification. This includes all casino pages and all affiliated pages. I guess most of the players shifted their focus on Facebook and other social media pages, where the regulation is not included.
Following the regulation, William Hill announced closing 700 shops and cutting 4500 jobs. The coin has 2 sides and I believe the families where you can lose your monthly salary with 20 hits on the slot machine might be happier. The only questionable thing might be, why this stake limit is not affecting the online gambling. I guess nobody is going to complain about that, since that would be a really significant hit to the whole UK gambling industry.
The following case is not the UKGC the one to be blamed, but The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The text was the following: "Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer". I am not a big fan of William Hill, but a statement "that linking gambling to sexual success is breaking the rules..." is simply questionable. And the winner of this case is indeed William Hill. This advertisement has received so much attention that it saved them hundreds of thousands. The prints such as BBC, CNN or the Guardian have written about the case, offering un-directly free advertisement.