UK Gambling Commission Overhaul Online Regulations, WPT Targets Asia with Mobile App, and China Gets Tough over Cross-Border Gambling

February 12, 2021
Mark Patrickson

The UK Gambling Commission has conducted a review into the 2005 Gambling Act with a view to protecting the most vulnerable. The regulatory organisation aims to make online gaming safer in conjunction with the providers, ultimately preventing predatory behaviour.

New rules that were published on Tuesday lashed out at slot machines in particular, while leaving online poker mostly undisturbed.

The UKGC disclosed data that showed slot machine play accounts for as much as 70% of all online gambling activity in the UK. With gambling generally getting negative viewpoints in the media it was high time that providers were forced to rein in some of their slots games to protect addicts.

Updated regs include the following changes:

A minimum 2.5 seconds between spins
Autoplay feature is now banned
Session wins/losses must be clearly visible during play
A prize that is worth less than the value of a player’s losses cannot be presented as a “win”
Withdrawals cannot be reversed

The final point is the only regulatory change that affects online poker players.

Anything that helps problem gamblers is a positive change but we hope that the UKGC don’t go as far as the Spanish government in banning most advertising.

The football league in the UK relies heavily on sponsorship money from betting companies. In the Premier League this is close to 50% of the clubs, while in lower leagues this figure rises to 70%.

Unibet Vow to Protect Gambling Addicts

Kindred Group, owner of Unibet, have vowed to cut out all revenue from gambling addicts by 2023. The management team will now include this information in the financial reports to ensure that players who exhibit poor gambling habits will be better protected.

It is believed that this is the very first time a gambling provider has taken such a step to distinguish between profits from high and low risk players.

This is good news, in our opinion, because the more willing the providers are to self-govern like this the more governments will be prepared to give the industry an easier ride.

Responsible gambling is a topic we’re all hearing a lot about lately, Hopefully as many providers as possible will get on this bandwagon to show us all in the best light possible as we strive to help those who gamble in a harmful way.

WPT Targets Asian Market

The World Poker Tour has partnered with Poker King—who sponsor Phil Ivery and Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan—to target Asian mobile gamers during the WPT Spring Festival, running until February 22.

The mobile only series has 13 events scheduled with a tidy $1.85 million in guarantees available. Only Poker King customers in Asia will be eligible to play in the festival which provides a fantastic way for recreational players to get involved with a major organiser like the WPT.

Poker King said they currently have 1.2 million customers registered with them. That’s a good size player pool to introduce the first major mobile only series in the region.

We keep on crossing our fingers that another poker boom will come from Asia, so maybe, after all, it will come with a new generation of mobile players.

China Fights Back against Cross-Border Gambling

It has been a few years now since the Chinese government took aim at overseas gambling outlets targeting Chinese citizens. It’s no secret that the Chinese people love to gamble and many cities around the world have stepped up efforts to take full advantage of this.

The Chinese government is now fighting hard to end what they see as predatory behaviour, even going as far as drawing up blacklisted destinations.

JP Morgan’s DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An said:

“This seems to us like a continuation of its efforts to curb illegal overseas gambling (e.g. proxy betting, video streaming and online casinos among others) and illicit cross-border capital flows since last year that have been stepped up materially in recent months.”

“At this stage, it’s difficult to know exactly how the government will clamp-down and what it means by ‘black-listing’, but we suspect capital flows through underground banks and agents, as well as junkets’ promotion of these overseas markets, will be heavily scrutinized.”

Last month the Ministry of Public Security of China announced that more than 3,500 cross border cases were investigated in 2020 leading to more than 75,000 arrests.

“More than 600 Chinese suspects were brought back to China from abroad by Chinese police in collaboration with their counterparts in countries including the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.”

The ministry gave operators a deadline of April 30, 2021 to cease providing services to Chinese nationals or they will face prosecution.

Could a Futures Market for Sports Betting Really Happen?

ErisX, a cryptocurrency exchange operator, and an attorney called Jeff Ifrah have mooted the possibility of setting up a futures market for sports betting.

The idea is centred around helping out local sportsbooks who often face the vast majority of the market ending up on the home side. Because inter-state gambling is illegal the bookmakers have no way to hedge. This leaves them open to a seriously bad day at the office if things go wrong.

It might sound a little pie in the sky to get such an idea off the ground but ErisX filed a request with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) around Christmas which started a 90-day commenting period to investigate.

Gambling futures contracts were actually banned in 2010 but maybe some distinction can be made between this new idea and plain, old gambling.

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