Home Business Insights & Advice Are players truly safe in UK online casinos in 2019

Are players truly safe in UK online casinos in 2019

by John Saunders
2nd Jul 19 2:07 pm

Since the creation of the UK Gambling Commission in 2005, people have frequently raised concerns about the lack of player protection and effective prevention of underage gambling. Recent player complaints also reveal an industry marked by questionable business practices, especially regarding bonuses and withdrawals of winnings.

Yes, things are safer, but are they better.

Despite its reputation in the industry as one of the leading gambling regulation boards, it is not free of criticism. It is often asked whether the UK Gambling Commission is doing enough to protect players from greedy and unscrupulous casino operators. What rules have recently changed and how has it impacted casino gaming in the UK?

Understanding the role of the UK Gambling Commission

Gambling is a cultural phenomenon in the UK. The country has a love affair with gambling that goes back centuries, with horse racing as the main focus in the past.

These new forms were legalized gradually in the last century in the UK:

  • Lotteries were legalized in the 1930s
  • In 1960, bingo halls were allowed to operate
  • Casino licenses were issued in 1968 by the Gaming Board
  • Scratch cards and the UK National Lottery was launched in 1994

The UK Gambling Commission was created by the 2005 Gambling Act to keep up with the changes in gambling technologies. It legalized online casinos and super casinos and tried to keep the industry under tight control.

The UK Gambling Commission has the following tasks:

  • Keep organized crime out of gambling markets
  • Ensure fair gambling practices and prevent exploitation
  • Protect children and keep a check on gambling addiction

The Commission issues licenses to all online and offline gambling operators working in the UK markets. It carries out inspections and can levy stiff fines if operators are found to be flouting rules and regulations.

It may not be perfect, but the current system in the UK is widely regarded as the best in the world.

Changes made to online casino customer verification rules

Since 2005, online casinos had 72 hours after registration of a new player to verify his/her identity, age, etc. In that period, the players were free to gamble for cash at the casino with the only restriction being on withdrawal of funds.

This created a potential situation where children could gamble at any online site at least until the KYC verification steps was completed. If anyone was found to be underage, it was mandatory for the casino operator to close the account and refund the deposit.

In 2018, the Gambling Commission changed the system to plug this loophole. Under new rules, customer verification is required before a player is allowed to deposit funds or play for cash at the casino.

The following details must be checked by the casino before allowing a player to deposit cash and gamble:

  • Player name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth

Free play games are no longer “freely” accessible

Many online casinos offer “fun play” or “free play” to visitors and new players, mainly as a promotional tool to get them interested in gambling. Technically, fun play is not gambling as no actual cash is involved.

But there is a real risk of children getting attracted to slots and other casino games available under fun play at many online casinos. To counter this, the Commission has created a new rule – fun play is off-limits to customers who have not yet completed age verification.

Prevent abuse of KYC requirements to delay withdrawals

Even after mandatory KYC process has been completed, some casinos ask players for additional documentation when withdrawal requests are made. Many players complained about this practice and justifiably so.

New rules crafted in 2018 have largely put an end to this reprehensible tactic, at least in the UK. An online casino can no longer arbitrarily ask for new ID checks when a player makes a withdrawal request. Players must be informed right in the beginning about all the required documents, when to submit them, and how to submit them.

Strengthens responsible gambling and self-exclusion process

All online casinos operating in the UK are required to provide adequate measures to help vulnerable players control their gambling habit. In many online casinos, however, enforcement is lax and players often find access to gambling services despite being on the self-exclusion list.

This has been drastically reduced with the change in verification rules. It is harder for players “to slip through the cracks” due to the increased scrutiny in the early stages of the verification process.

New rules about bonuses and promotions

Online casino bonuses are one of the most common causes of player complaints. Operators often add convoluted requirements that are easily violated, depriving players of their winnings.

The government’s Competition and Markets Authority, in partnership with the Gambling Commission, has warned the operators to clean up their act in this regard. As per new rules, all online casino operators are required to follow these steps:

  • No more multiple wagering requirements before players can withdraw cash
  • No need for players to take part in publicity campaigns to get their money released
  • No more ambiguous or unclear bonus Terms and Conditions

Since complicated bonus terms were an endemic feature among online casinos, many of them were forced to cease their operations as a result of these rule changes. This, however, seems to have been a temporary situation. Australia’s stance on online casinos stand is stark contrast to the UK. Prohibition has allowed a more underworld online gambling environment to exist in the country as Casinoshortlist shows that online casinos are alive and well regardless of prohibition.

The situation now

Regulating any industry is an ongoing process and the UK gambling industry is no different in that regard. Though there are many problems inherent in the market, there is no denying the fact that the UK is still one of the safest markets for players anywhere in the world. Thanks to proactive and vigilant regulators, casinos are kept constantly on their toes. And that is a very good thing for all concerned parties, including the casinos themselves!

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