Could tighter UK gambling regulations have an adverse effect on the iGaming jobs market in Malta?
The UK gambling industry is in the middle of an expected major policy change. For many, the upcoming changes are welcome, but for others, there are cries that the reform of the gambling industry is being pushed through without any debate.
The UK gambling industry is currently regulated by the 2005 Gambling Act. However, by the end of 2020, anti-gambling advocates and government officials alike paved the way for a major review of the act. Two years have passed since the announcement of the review and although we are yet to see any major changes, it is expected that they will arrive at some point this year. Members of Parliament have admitted that the current laws surrounding gambling should be updated so that they “are fit for the digital age”.
As it stands, many of the gambling companies operating in the UK, have offices based on the island of Malta. In fact, the iGaming industry is just as important to Malta as it is to the UK. Maltese based companies generate thousands of jobs on the island and whilst dozens of different countries contribute to the iGaming sectors revenue, further regulation of UK gambling laws may have a knock-on effect when it comes to employers and their employees in Malta.
Only a few days ago it was announced that betting companies will no longer be allowed to stream FA cup ties live when the FA next sells its FA cup package to broadcasters. There has been widespread criticism that football fans had to open gambling accounts to be able to watch some FA cup games. There are constant rumours that the changes to the gambling act will hit UK sport hard. Rumoured changes include gambling sponsors on the front of football jerseys which are likely to be banned.
Other areas of the gambling industry which are likely to be forced to make widespread changes include those within iGaming, specifically, the online casino scene.
Due to the expected upcoming changes to gambling laws, Pentasia speaks to Jean Prince, Editor in Chief at UK slots site affiliate SlotsHawk.com about the UK online casino scene, how UK regulation compares with other European countries and what the future of online gambling is likely to be for both Maltese based employers and those in the United Kingdom.
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Changes to UK gambling laws have been expected for over a year now, when are we likely to see changes come into effect and do you think they are necessary?
Whilst I cannot speak for all of the different gambling sectors, it seems to be the case that online casino gambling laws and regulations in the UK are constantly under scrutiny. Although I certainly agree that some changes are definitely needed, the laws were created before the boom in online gambling after all, it has to be said that UK regulations are currently among the strictest in the world. Unless gambling has been outright banned in a country, the UK industry is incredibly safe and very tightly regulated. So, whilst some changes are necessary, the government needs to keep a balance.
I think we will certainly hear the official announcements regarding any changes this year, but I do not think we will the come into fruition from a practical perspective until 2023 at the earliest. Although with that being said, I understand that gambling companies within sport will be required to change their ways from the beginning of next season. It does seem to be the case though that anti-gambling protestors are pushing for changes within sport more than they are within the casino industry.
You mentioned the possibility of too much regulation, could you explain this in a little more detail please?
There is a danger that too much regulation will have the adverse effect from what the changes are intending. The slogan is that online casino games such as online slots can and will cause gambling addiction, but this is simply not the case. There are millions of gamblers who enjoy such games responsibly. There is a chance that if regulations become so tight, responsible gamblers who play the likes of poker and blackjack etc as a pastime will end up having to play at unregulated sites.
For example, if the UK government decide to enforce monthly betting limits on UKGC licensed casinos, then there is every chance that gamblers will simply jump ship and play at an online casino which does not have such betting limits. Unfortunately, it will also be the case that they will not have a UKGC license which means that what were once responsible gamblers will now be in danger as a direct consequence of tighter gambling laws.
As it stands, the UK has one of the safest online gambling environments in the world. Although it is by no means perfect (what is perfect after all), there must be a debate surrounding any changes and law makers must appeal to and look at the perspectives of all, not only the anti-gambling lobby.
Does this have the potential to have a knock-on effect on the setup/industry in Malta?
It certainly has the potential to upset jobs, but the iGaming industry is global. Overall, no, I do not think it would upset the setup in Malta a great deal. I think companies in Malta would just shift their focuses to other geographical locations. The USA is obviously up and coming, Japan is a good market, and we also expect Holland to open up again any time now. In fact, from the point of view of many in the industry, the UK is considered a weak market with low value players.
An even tighter regulated UK market would not be good for anyone, but the effect on jobs in Malta would be small.
Could you explain to our readers about your own website’s role within online gambling?
So, we are an affiliate site operating primarily within the United Kingdom. You can think of SlotsHawk.com as the middleman between a would-be gambler and an online casino. Our small team consists of over a decade of knowledge within the online casino industry and we make it our purpose to give gamblers as much information as possible so that they can enjoy their gambling experiences.
The website revolves around online slot games. For example, we provide for our readers expert knowledge on the best slot games to play as well as the best slot sites to play at in the UK. There are hundreds of UK online casinos and tens of thousands of online slot games, so we provide information on the very best ones. One of our most popular pages is an article pinpointing high payout slots, this consists of the online slots which offer the best payout levels, thus increasing the chances of our readers hitting big wins. We also showcase numerous other expert guides including info related to the highest RTP slots as well as where our readers can find bonuses with no wagering requirements.
We work with over 30 different UK casinos which we have handpicked as the best. We never work with unlicensed casino sites either.
Will any changes have any consequences on SlotsHawk?
One thing which I can say with accuracy regarding the UK gambling market is that regulation updates are extremely common. The market is always changing and shifting direction, so we are used to dancing with the whim of the laws as are other affiliates and the casinos themselves. What I can say is that, we will always adhere to every law and we will never promote unlicensed casinos. With that being said, should laws regarding deposit limits come into force, this will obviously have an effect on us. The majority of our revenue comes from the casinos who pay for exposure on our site. If, all of a sudden, UK players are not able to make as many deposits at the casinos, those casinos will look to attract players from countries which have no such limits.
As aforementioned, we will never promote unregulated sites, but other high profile affiliate sites might. This will create a rush of UK players playing at potentially dangerous and fraudulent online casinos. This is not good for anyone.
Finally, could you give us an overall outlook into the future of slots gambling in the UK?
It remains difficult to foresee. Last year, the government banned autoplay features on slots, which was probably fair. Whilst I certainly agree that casinos need ensure that problem gamblers are not losing vast amounts of money, imposing gambling limits on all gamblers is not the answer. I do not think the government will impose such limits, I think/hope that common sense will prevail. I also hope that the UK gambling sector remains one of the safest in the world. Imposing further restrictions will not necessarily create a safer environment for players, on the contrary, it will have the opposite effect. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Let’s pray that the government takes all opinions into consideration before it makes any final decisions.
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