Recent decisions made by the UK government highlight its intention to impose new restrictions and taxes on gambling operators. On one hand, the authorities want to limit the negative effects that gambling has on vulnerable people by limiting exposure to gambling advertisements and betting logos. At the same time, they contemplate the possibility of introducing new taxes while increasing existing ones. All these decisions pose the risk of driving online gambling even further into the black market.
Online players don’t settle for second best
The UK gambling market is well regulated and the UK Gambling Commission does a great job at keeping things fair and transparent. Local players feel comfortable depositing and wagering and operators that hold a valid UK GC license. They are naturally inclined to stick to licensed casinos and until recently had little to no reasons to switch to black market operators. They cherish the security provided by the licensed operators, but they also appreciate generous bonuses and access to various promotions.
If licensed casinos are deprived of essential instruments such as VIP programs and loyalty schemes, some players might lose interest. Healthy competition between regulated casinos has so far led to a surge in the number of players gambling online. They were attracted by the generous promotions and bonuses offered, as well as the high odds and other particular advantages. If licensed casinos can no longer offer them, some players might choose to take a leap of faith with unregulated operators.
Gambling firms listed here will also lose a lot of their exposure if they are no longer allowed to promote the brand in major sports competitions. One of the first actions likely to be taken by the authorities in 2021 is to deny them the freedom of advertising logos on sports shirts. TV and Internet marketing campaigns are also likely to be hit by the new laws, which are created with the desire of protecting problem gamblers.
The real threat of black market betting
There isn’t consensus between the authorities and licensed casinos when it comes to the scale of black market betting. The latter claim that this is a huge threat and that many players are already placing their bets there, with the number only expected to grow if new laws roll in. Some studies suggest that this is indeed true, but the authorities claim that this threat is intentionally exaggerated by gambling firms.
The government isn’t particularly worried by the prospect of unscrupulous operators benefiting from the tightening of gambling laws. They claim that every decision made to drive up the standards and make regulated gambling firms more secure will have a positive impact overall. Many players are expected to stick to licensed casinos, even if they lose some of the advantages enjoyed so far. Time will tell if the heavy-handed regulations will actually drive players to the black market in 2021 and beyond.