How Australia can learn from the UK’s online gambling regulations
When it comes to topics such as gambling, the UK is sure to lead the market in many different ways. With widespread machines, lotteries, and online options made available to players, billions donated from the National Lottery to great causes and charities in 2017, and a climbing Gross Gambling Yield, they are no doubt taking over the industry.
In the meantime, Australia is growing a billion-dollar industry and managing a worldwide reach that is expected to gain popularity again after the hopeful border re-opening plan for summer 2021. The country’s success is not shocking, as Australians are some of the most active gamblers in the world, with over 80% of adults participating in some form of gambling. But despite the market raking in billions, Australian gamblers and operators are mostly left vulnerable by an absence of rules and regulations, making them miss out on opportunities that the UK has mastered.
A large part of the view for the UK as a gambling marketplace and main hub for operators is the country’s position on the frontline of gaming software development, tech adaptation, and business strategy. Some of the main advantages they have that the other up-and-comers within the industry, such as Australia, do not yet possess are regulation and adaptability.
This past year alone, the UK Gambling Commission increased fines issued to operators by over 50% compared to the 2018-19 fiscal year, pointing out warnings about not taking advantage of players during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. Many penalties were given to the tune of £30m, and UKGC CEO Neil McArthur warned online operators that the “tighter measures to protect consumers during lockdown” that were enacted during the first lockdown are still in effect.
Of course, as expected, some operators and critics say that the regulations are too strict and too tough, but the penalties and rules are there to protect gamblers from an unfair power balance and donate fines to better causes. In 2020, a combined £27m was collected in settlements from regulations, and in 2019 fines on three different online casinos brought £8.7m. Many of these fines are given for offenses such as money laundering. In 2020, the UK set aside £9m of those fines for charities that work with vulnerable players who are in need of the help.
In comparison, the Australian online market fails to utilise regulation laws that protect its players. Land-based casinos are the majority of the law under the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which makes it illegal for off-shore and local operators to host many forms of online gambling offerings for Australians. Alas, that does not stop online sites from doing exactly that, and since the Australian government does not have the time or the money to run after every single operator who violates the IGA, it’s up to the gamblers to figure out themselves which sites are trustworthy and which are not.
Whether the Australian government legalizes all types of online gambling or not, not taking any sort of action is leaving Australian gamblers vulnerable and making them easy victims to scam.
The UK is not the only country that Australia can learn from as online gambling becomes more and more widespread. The United States has revoked and added a series of laws in recent years that allow states to form their own legislation in regards to sportsbook betting and online gambling. Currently, states are moving to enact new laws to deal with the increasing popularity of online casinos.