Gambling is one of the most popular forms of online entertainment, with huge profits generated annually for betting firms, and continued growth expected in the 2020s. Indeed, recent projections suggest that the global market will exceed $100 billion by the end of the decade helped in part by the opening up of the US market for sportsbooks and casino gambling.
With so much money to be made it’s no surprise that the industry has attracted its fair share of chancers and criminals looking to make a quick buck. So, if you are looking to test your luck at any gambling sites it’s important to know what you are getting into. Using our years of experience (playing with one eye on our balance!) we’ve put together this short guide on how to gamble responsibly and safely in the UK right now.
The importance of licensing
Gambling regulation and licensing have been in the news a lot recently, from the revision of the controversial Gambling Act to the fiasco over the Football Index. The rules around how firms operate and what should be allowed is causing heated debate, much of it through the prism of the issue of problem gambling. In fact, it is likely that in the next 12 months there will be some big changes to things like stake limits, spend limits, and advertising and marketing rules.
But one thing that will not change is that in the UK the only way to play safe is to gamble on licensed sites that are adhering to the rules. That means sites that have been licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. Whilst they may be maligned in some quarters, the UK GC still uphold fairly high standards and any casino or sportsbook that has been an issued with a license will have undergone a full audit of the platform, cashier and games to ensure they are safe, fair and secure.
Licensed sites are also required to follow strict rules around Responsible Gambling – that means they provide tools by which players can set their own limits on spend and have the option to withdraw from the site and all marketing communications completely should they wish.
So, before you sign up and place that first bet, always be sure to check that any site you play on carries the appropriate licensing information in its footer.
Look for clear and transparent terms
The terms and conditions on any betting website are a contract between yourself and the operator. Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect anyone to read the entire set before signing up, it’s worth looking through some of the more salient points and checking that they are reasonable.
Key terms here include things like maximum withdrawal limits – how much you can take out from your account in one day, and do these limits apply to big jackpot wins. In the past betting firms have been criticised for holding back winnings from players for months under the terms of the site. This practice has by and large been outlawed but it’s still worth checking to see how you could access your funds should you become a lucky multi-million GBP winner!
Use responsible gambling tools
We’ve already mentioned the importance of licensing. One of the conditions of a UK license is that gambling operators are required to provide you with tools to help you to be in control of your spend. That means you can set limits on how much you can wager each day, how much you can deposit each day, week and month, and whether you want to receive marketing communications offering you the latest bonuses each week.
We highly recommend that you use these tools when you play at any online casino or bet on any online sportsbook. It’s a great way to stay in control and stop yourself spending more than you can afford. And of course, if you do find yourself unable to control your gambling then you can look to any of the charities that deal with addition, like Gamcare.org or Gamblers Anonymous.
Check out alternative banking options
Another way to make sure that you play responsibly and don’t spend more than you can afford is to look at alternative payment solutions that allow you to manage your budget for gambling. Due to the popularity of online gambling, operators stack their platforms with as many deposit and withdrawal options as they can to attract a wide audience. That includes everything from traditional bank cards, Visa and Mastercard, to eWallets like Paypal and Skrill and even an eCheck Casino service, popular on some Canada-based sites.
So, how can using these cashier options help you? Well, if you want to stick to a limited budget each month, setting up an eWallet and transferring your monthly balance into that virtual space can provide a ring-fenced cash sum to use for bets. Sticking to funds only available through your preferred eWallet will stop you spending over your allowance. Good options for budgeting like this include Paypal and Neteller, both of which are commonly found at online gambling sites.
In conclusion, despite recent controversy in the press, the UK gambling market is well regulated and set up to protect its consumers. However, a large part of the responsibility must fall on the shoulders of you, the punter. But by following the advice outlined in this article – choosing only licensed casinos, reviewing terms before you sign up, using the tools and payment systems available to manage your budget – you can have a great, and often rewarding time, betting in this country.
Please play responsibly. For more information and advice visit www.begambleaware.org