Anti-Gambling Campaigners Seek Harsher Regulations for the UK Gambling Sector

Anti-Gambling Campaigners Seek Harsher Regulations for the UK Gambling Sector. They believe the lax regulations are not ideal. (Image Source: Pixabay by fielperson)

Ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that affected numerous countries, gambling operators in Britain have been n search of ways to improve their online presence and boost their online offerings. This is because the long lockdown and social distancing regulations that came along with the pandemic have resulted in the closure of their betting shops.  The UK Government has imposed these measures as a way of stopping the further spread of the virus. A few ways they have done this include closing down commercial and social locations and all popular sporting events have been paused worldwide. Fortunately, even though many land-based gambling venues have been locked down, some gambling operators in the UK still experienced a rise in their overall earnings. This is thanks to their presence online. As a matter of fact, online gambling, in addition to helping these gambling companies stay above water during the pandemic, also experience a surge of patronage from players.

Many large companies in the UK gambling markets like 888 holdings, Entain, Rank Group, and bet365 – stated that their performance has been on the high side since March 2020. But even though this was good news for the gambling industry, it also brought about a cause for concern regarding the possible rise in problem gambling and gambling-related issues. This is particularly worse when you consider the isolation, stress, financial worries, boredom, and anxiety that were experienced during the pandemic. The UKGC, which is the country’s regulatory body, revealed that lots of people participated in online gambling during the pandemic, while some customers picked up new gambling activities, thus spending more money and time.

The UK Gambling Sector Relies on Susceptible Gamblers

The UKGC revealed that customer engagement with an increased range of gambling activities could be liked with higher levels of harm related to gambling, and what was found to be of major concern was gambling addiction.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, who has been an advocate of anti-gambling for a long time, warned that:

Since land-based gambling locations have been closed and operators leaning towards boosting their digital presence, more casual gamblers have also been drawn towards some slot games and online casinos.

He continued by saying that gambling adverts on the internet have gone up by up to three times ever since March 2020, when the UK has its first lockdown. The campaigner against gambling has stated that this type of business model has been linked with more individuals being drawn to bet on various online sporting events and then pull in as many of those customers as possible to slot games and online casinos. Matt Zarb-Cousin further stated that even though gambling organizations allow their customers to restrict themselves from their services if their gambling habits worry them, most of the revenue from these companies depends on a small number of players who they consider most susceptible.

Research carried out by a group of scientists from Liverpool University in 2020 showed that more than 80% of the overall gambling returns came from 5% of gambling accounts with the most yearly spending. These customers are usually categorized to be the most susceptible. Most of the holders of gambling accounts either won some money from gambling or lost a reasonable amount. Data shows that almost 85% of them spent less than £200 in the year since the first lockdown in the UK. The study revealed that slot games were responsible for 93% of the overall gambling earnings from online gambling of the organizations that participated in the research. What’s more, residents of the locations that were more deprived had a higher likelihood of using gambling products, coupled with the fact that they were also responsible for very high spending when it comes to the overall gambling yield.

Campaigners State that the Sector Requires Harsher Regulations

The outcome for the increased rates of participation in online gambling has been made at a period when the Government in the UK is trying to review the county’s Gambling Act 2005. Over the last decade, gambling operators in the UK have experienced huge growth in popularity, especially after online gambling became more popular. Anti-gambling campaigners have been requesting changes, stating that the relaxed regulation is not ideal at a period when almost all individuals can get access to a smartphone and place bets anytime they desire.

Asides from this, anti-gambling supporters state that the negligent regulation of the industry has been one of the core reasons why gambling operators have transformed into some of the most prosperous organizations in the British economy. They believe that the gambling regulation had no innovation in line with the changes that have occurred around the sector, and as such, have been requesting harsher regulations of the sector.

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