The rise in UK gambling addictions has seen the NHS open new clinics dedicated solely to gambling issues, and the trend does not look to be breaking anytime soon.
COVID undoubtedly deepened the crisis, and due to its huge online presence, in 2022 it has been necessary for bookmakers to take stronger action against gambling addiction. The UK’s Safer Gambling Commission has put the following guidelines in place to ensure higher standards of safer gambling practice are implemented throughout the industry.
Safeguarding young and vulnerable people
Bookmaker bonuses have become harder to access, as online bookmakers have introduced complex sign-up processes that require age and address verification. They have algorithms that identify compulsive betting patterns from an account, and are now able to place restrictions on an account to prevent them from accessing offers like free bets and free spins.
Strengthening and Expanding Codes of Practice for Advertising and Marketing
All online gambling websites now have a 20% advertising quota which must be in relation to safer gambling, including information on prevention as well as cure. Bookmakers can no longer advertise on public transport in much of Europe, and they cannot have promotions or odds displayed as prominently as before
Protecting and Empowering Customers
Not only have bookmakers committed to increasing funding for the treatment of gambling addictions, but they also banned credit card betting in the UK back in 2018 which protects people from spending past their credit limit. The use of eWallets has facilitated more people to be able to access betting, but each option comes with detailed spending tracking options allowing customers to spend, track, monitor and set limits on their gambling
Creating a culture of safer gambling
Aside from the safer gambling advertising quota, online bookmakers offer free bets with no wagering requirements, so you can bet once without substantial financial risk. The Betting And Gaming Council is ensuring bookmakers incorporate the Safer Gambling Standard into their Codes of Conduct, as well as striving for stricter regulation to be adopted across the board.
Who is holding online bookmakers accountable?
The Safer Gambling Commission together with the Betting and Gaming Council are responsible for implementing the above goals into policy and practice. The commission regularly fines bookmakers if they find any social or financial failings in their conduct. For example, 888Sport were fined £7.8m penalty package for failing vulnerable customers back in 2017, and fined another £9.4 million this year due to money laundering and social responsibility failings.
Consumers are also able to help hold bookmakers accountable via reviewing poor service or conduct failings online and reporting them to the UK Gambling Commission.
What resources are available to help with Safer Gambling or Gambling Addiction?
The good news is the standards adopted by bookmakers make it easier to gamble more safely than ever before. With many of the big bookmakers, you can only use one new customer bonus and can choose either sports or casino. You can also set the time you spend online, how much you are able to spend per day as well as per week.
If you have been restricted by another bookmaker for bonus abuse or overspending, this is communicated so you will also be prevented or restricted by fellow bookmakers.
If you are currently struggling with a gambling addiction, below are the available resources for UK-based help:
UK: 0808 8020 133
Ireland: 1800 936 725
Northern Ireland: 08000 886 725
TALK to your friends, family, doctor or dog about what you are struggling with. There is no shame in gambling addiction.
VISIT your local GP or health centre to pick up leaflets and find out about addiction counseling services. For free.
Safer gambling for everyone.