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Gambling Addiction – How Market Regulation Affects Problem Gambling Rates

Without question, the online gambling market is amidst a boom period. Research shows that today, regular gamblers are six times more likely to bet over the internet than they were pre-2020. There was already a sizeable and growing interest in interactive gaming platforms even before the global health crisis hit, as this industry was pulling in worldwide revenues of $58.9 billion in 2019. Nevertheless, the 2021 projections put this figure at $72 billion, as the worldwide player pool continues to swell with each passing year.

Countries around the globe are well aware of this trend, succumbing to public pressure from companies looking to branch off into this arena, ones that will provide massive job opportunities and generate substantial tax revenues for government coffers. The same holds for the US, which is going through its digital betting revolution. However, with so many business entities craving to get in on this pastime and for it to get legalized everywhere, an equal number of individuals have concerns regarding if widely allowing this activity will dramatically boost gambling addiction rates or not. What follows below is an examination of how different regions regulate playing games of chance over the World Wide Web. Moreover, what types of responsible gaming features do they implement to keep their residents safe when indulging in this hobby.

Territories Where Gambling Gets Stringently Regulated

Most people that have a lay interest in gambling know that the UK is Europe’s most developed market. Before the pandemic, this territory produced an annual gross gambling yield of $19.24 billion, which in 2020 dropped to only $8 billion. Still, the potential of the British market is immense due to several reasons. One of the most vital ones is that gambling is an ingrained aspect of British culture, with roots going back to the 16th century and the Chester horse races.

Therefore, it is unavoidable that Brits will not stop gambling any time soon. Recent polls confirm this by showing that a third of a million UK citizens experience a continuous desire to bet on casino games and sports more than they should. The country’s gaming regulator, the UKGC (founded in 2007), does its best to curtail the rise of gambling addiction rates in the UK via various means. It has a reputation for being the strictest regulator in Europe, and in 2020 it banned credit cards from UKGC platforms and introduced a mandatory self-exclusion scheme called GamStop. According to non-gamstop-casinos.com, foreign sites accepting Brits licensed by other industry bodies get called non GamStop casinos. In 2021, the UKGC announced new measures that make online play less intense, such as obligatory wait times between slot spins, lower max bet limits, and no auto-play. In 2022, new measures such as a source of funds checks are on the horizon. Yes, these help ensure that no one spends more than they should, but they also drive players in hordes to casinos not on GamStop.

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Sweden is likely the Old Continent’s second-most ripe gaming territory. It legalized online betting in 2002 when it founded the Swedish Gambling Authority, which the Ministry of Finance and its Board control. It has its GamStop-like self-exclusion database named Spelpaus, which also features irreversible self-exclusion bans as the ones that GamStop allows. That said, the limits in Spelpaus are lower. It is a register that the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate runs. GamStop gets operated by a not-for-profit organization called the National Online Self Exclusion Scheme.

Regions New to Interactive Gaming That Look to Tightly Regulate It

Essentially, people from everywhere can gamble over the internet. That is usually so regardless of local laws because authorities seldom waste time prosecuting those that partake in online wagering. So, throughout Europe, residents of most countries have gambled on their smartphones or desktop computers without fear of prosecution for years. Two markets with sizeable player pools with no regulatory bodies of their own until now were Germany and the Netherlands.

In the past, in Germany, only the state of Schleswig-Holstein could oversee internet gaming fun. In 2021, thanks to the new Interstate Treaty on Gambling, a new national regulator based in Saxony-Anhalt came into existence. Moreover, Germany also decided to bring forward a self-exclusion database called OASIS. The Netherlands experienced a similar gaming evolution in 2021 with the birth of its Netherlands Gambling Authority. Plus, the corresponding CRUKS exclusion register.

In a few words, Germany and the Netherlands are looking to mimic the moves, the responsible betting features established in the UK and Sweden. They plan on following those countries’ already laid out regulation plans as baselines. The Dutch Remote Gambling Act features rigorous guidelines for game and payment providers. It also lists draconian fines for unlicensed operators accepting Dutch players.

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Loosely Overseen Markets

Online gambling got created in 1994 when the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act. For a few months following this event, the Antigua Division of Gaming was the sole gambling licensor on the internet. Yet, quickly following its inception, other regulators sprung up to get their share of the gaming pie. Today, there are multiple international licensors based in many smaller countries. These supply licenses let gambling operators provide their services to players residing in many regions. Such sites are what Brits famously call casinos not using GamStop. The label – casino not on GamStop gets attached to any platform with a base of operations outside the UK that accepts Brits.

In most cases, a non GamStop casino has a license by either the Malta Gaming Authority, a Curacao master license holder, or Panama’s Gaming Control Board. Despite these bodies operating from economically and legally underdeveloped countries, they implement the same security standards as the SGA and the UKGC. The only area where they are lax is gameplay restrictions, as they have almost none. They also allow niche payment methods and usually supply more generous promotions. All that said, these so-called loose regulators still mandate that their licensees provide responsible gambling tools like loss/deposit limits and site-specific self-exclusion. They are not immoral organizations just because they do not limit gameplay in any way.

Unmonitored Waters

Yes, in this day and age, unlicensed casinos still exist. What is even scarier is that many players use them, some out of ignorance, others due to the belief that these platforms hardly differ from regulated ones. While that may be somewhat accurate regarding design and gambling categories, it is absolutely false concerning player protection. Playing at unlicensed sites leaves gamblers with no recourse in a case of a dispute, at the mercy of their unapproved operator. Furthermore, that company has no obligation to follow any industry-standard procedures, and it can arbitrarily make up rules and decisions. Therefore, these hubs are places where scams proliferate.

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In the past, most crypto casinos had no license. That held particularly for ones that housed provably fair games only and still does to some degree. Nonetheless, most have since changed their ways, attaining a Curacao license of some sort to add a layer of credibility to their service.

What Regulation Is Best for Average Gamblers?

Ideally, a gambling site will feature no gameplay restrictions, such as the game options at casinos not using GameStop. That comes at the price of players who do not know their limits potentially falling prey to the temptations to gamble more than they can afford to lose. So, some kinds of restrictions are necessary. Most interactive gaming platforms offer users the ability to set loss/deposit limits, but few take advantage of it. Hence, these options should get compulsory promoted by all operators.

Site-specific self-exclusion is beneficial but is easily circumventable and cannot rival universal self-exclusion bans. Therefore, the perfect regulatory concoction would likely be a system of rules that do not limit gameplay too drastically by allowing universal cool-down periods and frequently reminding players of the dangers involved in betting. That should yield a decent balance of gambling fun and a low possibility of players facing emotional and financial peril.