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What Can the US Learn from the UK’s Approach to Responsible Gambling

It is an exciting time for fans of online gambling in the United States. There are states continually embracing this sector and starting to legalize the likes of sports betting, online poker, and online casinos.

This list is only going to get longer as time goes on and more states wake up to the benefits of legalizing these types of activities. However, there are some issues that come along with offering expanded forms of gambling and these are problems that are holding back certain lawmakers from supporting gambling expansion.

With the increasing availability of online gambling, there are concerns that this will also lead to a big rise in the number of people who are dealing with gambling problems. As each state makes its own rules, it is something that each respective region is going to have to deal with in their own rights.

This article will look at what mature online gambling sectors in other countries do to deal with the matter of problem gambling and what lessons the likes of the US authorities might be able to take away from these practices and maybe what could be avoided.

The UKGC and GamStop

One of the most mature online gambling markets in the world is found in the UK. The gambling sector has been well regulated there for many years and it is a core part of day-to-day life for a lot of residents. Most forms of online gambling are up and running in the UK, with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) being the main body that oversees these operations.

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This includes issuing licenses to operators, as well as making sure that effective rules and regulations are in place and that they are being followed by the market participants. The UKGC will not hesitate to introduce stringent new measures if it feels that there is an area of online gambling that is contributing to irresponsible gambling. It has introduced a lot of measures over recent years to this effect, including spin timers, banning credit card transactions, and curtailing the size of bets.

Naturally, one body cannot look after every single facet of the online gambling sector. Therefore, the UKGC gets help from other bodies to make sure that a responsible gambling environment is being cultivated. GamStop is one of those organizations and it looks after a mass self-exclusion program.

This offering allows a problem gambler to quickly exclude themselves from every single UKGC-licensed platform. This is a quick solution that means that people can take a break from gambling on regulated sites for up to a few years at a time. It’s non-reversible, so people cannot change their minds and to a U-turn.

What are Non-GamStop Casinos?

While the likes of GamStop and the UKGC have great intentions with their practices, there are some knock-on issues to their actions. With the UKGC seemingly constantly curtailing gamblers and operators, more people are getting sick of having less freedom when it comes to their online gambling.

This has led to a trend of people moving over to the likes of non-GamStop casino sites. These are platforms that do not follow the rules and regulations of the UKGC. They will often hold a license with another gambling regulator, such as the Malta Gaming Authority. However, they will have far fewer curtailments in place on players. This means bigger game libraries, more lucrative bonuses, fewer bans on game features, availability of more payment methods, and so on.

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The danger of non-GamStop casinos is that people who have been self-excluded from UKGC-licensed sites will be able to navigate around these blocks by going over to non-GamStop casinos. These platforms are not illegal to use, so the authorities are looking at ways in which they might be able to deter people from using these types of platforms. You can learn more here about these non-UK sites.

GamStop Sites vs Non-UK Casinos

Just like with most things, there are going to be pros and cons associated with these two main types of casino sites in the UK. Here is a snapshot of what these main differences are for both types of offerings:

GamStop Sites Pros

  • Third-party conflict resolution services
  • GamStop mass self-exclusion
  • Plenty of support for problem gamblers
  • No debt accumulating payment methods available

Cons

  • Restrictions on payments
  • Bans on certain game features
  • Self-exclusion is non-reversible

Non-GamStop Casinos

Pros

  • Plenty of payment options
  • More expansive types of games
  • Fewer bans on game features
  • Bigger game libraries

Cons

  • No mass self-exclusion possible
  • No third-party conflict resolution
  • Allows GamStop self-excluders to gamble

What Method is Right for the United States?

As the United States online gambling scene continues to expand, there are some learnings that states can take from the likes of the UK. They will be able to see that at a certain point, excessive restrictions are going to drive people over to offshore or unregulated platforms.

Therefore, a fine balance needs to be found between giving players sufficient freedom while still having protections in place. Over time, a lot of states will likely have to adjust their policies to find the ideal point in the middle of these two aims. This will allow them to find out a way to promote responsible gambling while not driving people over to unregulated sites.

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A rapidly changing environment

The United States online gambling market is expanding rapidly, and states are playing catch-up with the current leaders. Therefore, some regions are seemingly rushing through rules and regulations to get platforms live as quickly as possible. This means that changes may be needed in the future to regulatory frameworks to ensure that responsible gambling is prioritized without sacrificing too much freedom for the base of players.