UK Labour Party Demands Casino Operators Reapply for Licences
This week, the UK Labour Party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called for a thorough review into of all UKGC licence holders. This would mean that many would have to reapply for their licences, especially if they have acquired one after 2014.
The calls for review come after the UKGC found that over a third of operators were failing their customers, and just a week after the UKGC imposed penalties amounting to £4.5 million on four of the biggest UK gambling brands.
Whilst, ultimately, the review would help to ensure player safety, it could also have huge ramifications for keen players, who may find their favourite sites suspended or limited bonus offers.
Read on to find out more about how likely this new review is, what it aims to solve in the gambling industry, and how you may be affected.
What Does the UK Labour Party Want?
As we’ve just mentioned, the deputy leader of the UK Labour Party, Tom Watson, has called for a huge overhaul of the UKGC’s regulations, which could include many operators having to reapply for their licences.
The review seeks to question the integrity of the many UK gambling brands which operate from overseas. Watson has now written to the chief executive of the UKGC, as well as to Jeremy Wright, the current culture secretary.
In his letter, Watson addressed the need to seek changes within the industry, focussing on how many operators may be partaking in underhand tactics to attract new players and bettors. He said:
‘A UK gambling licence should be a hallmark of credibility and trust. It should not be seen as an opportunity for operators to push the limits of their conditions and responsibilities. This review would be an opportunity for existing remote licence-holders to reapply for the privilege of operating and marketing in the UK.’
He also added that he sees it as essential that the UK government works in partnership with the UKGC to reassesses the ‘financial probity of operators, the identity and characters of their owners, the contributions they make to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling, the partnerships they have with our sports clubs and any recent breaches of licence conditions.
What Does This Mean?
Essentially, Watson is implying that many remote gambling operators cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of their customers. Instead, they’re simply focussing on attracting new players and making huge profits.
Why Is a Review Necessary?
If you play at online casinos regularly, in a safe and controlled way, you may wonder why this review is necessary. After all, we all know the risks of playing and we all enjoy a relatively problem free experience, right?
Well actually, no. The calls for a new review come after an extended investigation by the UKGC, which found that out of 123 online operators, 45 drastically need to improve their standards – that’s almost 30% of sites.
Moreover, recently, more online gambling operators than ever before have been called out for being socially irresponsible. Their close connection to sporting clubs and events has been criticized, as has their marketing techniques and their seemingly superficial commitment to helping problem gamblers.
UKGC Imposes Fines Worth £4.5 Million
Tom Watson’s letter also comes after the UKGC has imposed penalty packages of over £4.5 million on four UK gaming brands:
- InTouch Games received £2.2 million worth of penalties for failing to meet customer risk assessments and not complying with social responsibility codes
- Betit Operations received a £1.4 million penalty for failing to maintain anti-money laundering controls
- MT SecureTrade Ltd received fines worth £700,000 for inadequate customer due diligence (failing to conduct acceptable customer checks)
- BestBet received fines of £230,972 for failing to install proper anti-money laundering practices
How Could the Review Affect You?
As we mentioned in the introduction, if this new review goes ahead, it could affect all UK casino players and bettors.
Whilst we welcome the review as it serves to keep all players safe and ensure that all operators are maintaing national standards, we also understand that no player wants to find themselves in a worse position than before.
Below, we’ve listed some of the possible ramifications of the review so that you’ll be prepared should it go ahead:
- The review could lead to the suspension of some UK gambling sites, and the closure of those which aren’t meeting standards. This is, of course, no bad thing yet it may mean that you’ll need to find a new place to play.
- The review could make operators hesitant to apply for UK licences, and therefore unable to accept UK players. Again, this isn’t such bad news as it means that a UKGC licence will be a mark of a quality site.
- The UKGC is already imposing new identity checks on players, after finding that sites were failing to administer proper background checks for problem gamblers and money launderers. This issue will also be at the heart of the new review and may mean that you’ll need to submit proof of identity before being able to register at a site.
- New identity checks could also mean that welcome bonuses and deposits will not be credited to accounts immediately. In this case, they’d be credited once the identity checks have been performed.
All in all, the review should make gambling safer for all players. It will help to protect vulnerable players such as underage gamblers and problem gamblers. Granted, it may mean that registering at a new casino site and claiming a bonus may take a little longer, but it will also ensure that all UK casinos are completely safe, legit and fair.