Analysis: Will Britain ban online gambling?

The United Kingdom is one of the biggest gambling markets in Europe and an obvious destination for international bookmakers and casinos.

Industry leaders have always tried to establish a dominant position in this country and were willing to make many compromises to achieve it.

While the interest in gambling in the UK has remained the same, the authorities have made and proposed many changes that could hurt the industry.

The prospect of Britain banning online gambling is, of course, frightening, but at least at the time of writing, this is an unlikely scenario.

The UK gambling market is strictly regulated

British players have the advantage of playing at new casino sites and bookmakers that are held to the highest standards by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

International players also fancy operators who are licensed by the UK GC, since they project an image of trustworthiness.

On the flipside, the casinos who have their headquarters in the UK or cater to British players are subject to higher taxes.

The point of consumption tax, introduced in 2014 affects all of them and operators have to pay 15% of their revenue.

Many are worried that the percentages will only go up over the next few years, as a new gambling tax was announced for October 2019.

An increase to 21% won’t have a debilitating effect on the gaming industry, but this could be just the tip of the iceberg and more tax hikes could follow.

Under these circumstances, the risks of online casinos and bookmakers leaving the UK appears to be greater than the risk of online gambling being banned in this country.

The UK Gambling Commission’s targeted approach

The UK GC and the British government keep a close eye on the gambling industry and have no hesitation in making drastic changes when necessary.

There is however no indication that gambling itself will be banned in the foreseeable future. Instead, the authorities are contemplating the possibility of banning credit cards for gambling, to mitigate the risks of addiction.

These financial instruments post a unique risk since players tend to bet larger sums when they are allowed to gamble on credit.

Other banking options, such as debit cards, e-wallets and wire transfers are not in danger of being banned.

Some of these decisions could seem capricious and arbitrary for casual players who enjoy gambling as a pleasant pastime.

The good news is that the UK GC has expressed its willingness to discuss any changes with the gaming community.

This means that these measures will be debated with those that could be affected, rather than being implemented immediately.

The wind of change is definitely blowing and gambling in the UK is likely to undergo many changes in the next few years.

On the bright side, there is no reason to worry about Britain banning online gambling anytime soon.

At the end of the day, it remains a significant source of revenue for the state coffers and one that would be difficult to replace.

Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver via Flickr, with thanks.

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