Online gambling operators in the United Kingdom have been told to clean up their act and provide professional and honest services to their customers as the gambling regulator dished out another $4.5 million in fines to firms that failed to meet its mandatory standards.
It’s all part of efforts by the UK Gambling Commission, a government body overseeing the gambling and betting industries as well as the country’s National Lottery, to make playing at online casinos a safe and enjoyable experience for customers. The Commission says the UK online gambling market is the largest regulated market anywhere in the world and its aim is to ensure it’s fair and has sufficient safeguards to protect consumers.
It comes at a time when the online casino market in the UK is booming and worth an estimated £14.5 billion. This is being fuelled in large part by the growing availability of more sophisticated websites and mobile gambling sites and apps that let people play and bet no matter where they happen to be. It instantly eliminates the need to travel to a casino or betting shop and perhaps also stay at an expensive hotel — and there are plenty of reviews that allow people to find the best live casino online for them.
Coming Down Hard, Again
Following millions in fines handed out by the Commission last year, another four gambling firms have now been sanctioned for failing to comply with newly introduced regulations designed to make the sector safe for everyone. They are InTouch Games, which was fined £2.2 million; Betit Operators, given a £1.4-million fine; MT Secure Trade, which will have to fork out £700,000 for breaches of the regulations; and BestBest, hit by a fine of £230,972.
The hefty financial penalties are largely due to the gambling operators’ failures to have sufficient safeguards in place so that money laundering would not be possible while using their services, and not having enough measures on their sites to prevent customers from coming to any harm, the Commission said.
“We have been working hard to raise standards in the online industry to ensure that gambling is crime-free and that the one in five people in Britain who gamble online every month can do so safely,” said the Commission’s executive director, Richard Watson, when announcing the new sanctions. “But our work will not stop here. As a regulator, we will continue to set and enforce standards that the industry must comply with to protect consumers.”
Ongoing Gambling Clampdown
So far — over the last year and a half, since an investigation into gambling operators began — the Commission has probed the activities and offerings of 123 online gambling firms and told 45 to devise an action plan showing how they would raise their standards and offer better terms and service to the playing public. It says 38 of them have already shown signs that they are improving and that 34 online gambling operators were either fully compliant with existing regulations or had minor issues that were being remedied.
Last November was the biggest clampdown on online gambling firms in the UK, with three firms hit with a total of £14 million in fines and three having to surrender their licences and exit the UK market because their standards were judged to be too low and there were no evident ways to raise them. The Commission has also introduced new measures to protect children and young people from gambling harms and is working with partner institutions to gain an insight into how gambling among the youth can impact not only on their finances and relationships with others but also their health.
It seems with this extensive and continuous monitoring of the British online gambling sector, it’s a safe bet for all.