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How does the UK regulate online betting sites?

A well-regulated betting market is an entirely different beast from one that is not properly regulated. As seen with recent news reported by Betfree, Irish sports betting sites are soon to face more regulation on licensing, bonuses and advertising. Regulation is uniquely important to the betting market for a whole host of reasons, and they won’t do it by themselves. The regulations have to come from elsewhere. With that in mind, today we’re going to look at some of the most important ways that the UK regulates online betting sites, from fairness in the games themselves to data protection and advertising restrictions. 

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Let’s take a look. 

  1. Fairness

For players’ purposes, one of the most important ways that online betting sites are regulated in the UK regards fairness in games. The UKGC ensures that any and all betting sites run games which give bettors a fair chance of winning, and that they are not essentially being tricked into handing over their money. 

The house edge varies depending on the kind of game you are playing, but for things like slot machines, it must sit somewhere around 5-10%. Further, of £100 staked by a bettor, at least £96 of that must return to them over the course of play for the site or game to be considered fair. 

These fairness principles would not be in place without the UKGC. 

  1. Data protection 

Data protection is an issue in all cyber and digital activities today. We are all more concerned with it than ever. Every day, small and medium-sized businesses in the UK face around 4500 successful breaches of their private servers. This puts you at risk if your data is not handled properly by the betting operator. 

The UKGC ensures that all betting sites adhere to the regulations set forth in the Data Protection Act. This means that your financial information, as well as everything else, is stored in such a way that it is not at risk in the event of a hack or breach. 

This is really vital for a safe online betting market. 

  1. Advertising 

Advertising has always been another of the most important parts of regulating gambling generally, and this has become even more important in the digital age. Generally, the UKGC requires gambling operators to advertise in a “socially responsible” way. This can mean different things at different times, but, for example, advertising must not attempt to appeal to children or the underage. The power of advertising can be seen when you search for free bets in the UK, companies offer large bonuses like £20 in free bets at Ladbrokes, and bettors can sign up to multiple sites.

Future regulations could seek to ban things like sports team partnerships with betting sites. 

We don’t allow tobacco companies to advertise, and alcohol must only advertise in a responsible way, so the logic is easy to understand. 

  1. Self-exclusion programs 

In more recent years, another requirement that gambling regulators have brought in are self-exclusion programs like Gamstop. These are a means by which players and problem gamblers can restrict themselves, for a period of their choosing, from using any online betting site licensed by the UKGC. The UKGC currently requires any licensed operator to participate in Gamstop. 

These kinds of programs are another really important step in the right direction, as close to 250,000 people in the UK are known to have an issue with problem gambling, with a further 2 million at risk. Self-exclusion programs are really important in addressing this issue. 

There are clearly a number of essential ways that the online betting market must be regulated by the government. Without these protections, bettors would have no guarantee of fairness in the games they play, adequate protection of their sensitive data, and the general public would be exposed to irresponsible advertising practices. While regulation is not perfect as it is, it’s off to a good start.

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