David Clifton from Clifton Davies Consultancy Limited speaks about the past and the future for the casino industry in UK.
David mentioned that 2018 was an interesting year for the gambling and casino industry in UK. As an example, the FBOTs (Fixed-Odds Betting Terminal) are on their way to become history.
Online gambling had its fair share of the year’s regulatory enforcement action from both the Gambling Commission and the Competition & Markets Authority. If players are unsure about online casinos and how to choose one, they can look to see if casinos they have found have a license from the Gambling Commission. This informs the player whether the casino is regulated, or not.
Looking back in 2018
The combative gambling advertising debate was focused primarily on TV operators betting ads and online affiliates. In addition, land-based casinos has a general absence of negative news. Unfortunately, there were no good news for the land-based casino sector. The year of 2018, was not the year of gaming machines.
As an example, The Gambling Commission made clear back in March 2018 that there will not be increased machine allocations for casinos. The National Casino Forum proposal for a higher stake and more gaming machines for the top 10 high-end casinos in the Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea districts were also refused.
This proposal needed more evidence on the controls that could be put in place, in order to provide these machines a socially responsible manner and at the same time to be substantially restricted. The NCF (National Casino Forum) also proposed for Gambling Act 2005 that large casinos to have a 500 cap of machines, which was also refused by the Commission.
The gambling sector hoped that they could harmonise the terms of bringing the machines and other entitlements of Gaming Act 1968 licensed casinos into the line with the new 2005 Act. The sector also asked for permission to make online casino gaming available for licensed land-based casinos, but it was rejected by the Commission.
The Commission is afraid that there will be introduced unlimited stakes for Category A machines. The Commission also believes that Category A machines should be restricted to a Regional Casino under the 2005 Act. This means in the near future there will be no signs of these hopes to materialise.
Because there was a dominant focus of the FOBT gaming machines, in May 2018 there was no surprise that the government decided to maintain a quo status across casino machines towards allocations, stakes etc. They also warned that if additional measures are put in order to manage the risk of gambling-related harm effectively, they will consider looking again at the allocations questions. This is considered a vital issue for the casinos in UK, because the machine allocations are already low by the international standards.
The future in 2019
David Clifton believes that the Commission had a positive response towards the casinos. The casino operators tried to work with the Commission in order to enhance both player protection and evaluation strategies.
The year of 2019 will be the year where the UK casino operators will have greater resources to be invested in data, technology and research. This will increase even more effective protection for players and a better evidence-based response to the Commission’s challenges.
In 2018 the Commission called for collaboration. This doesn’t mean that only the casino operators must work in collaboration with their regulator. It is also a call for operators from different gambling sectors. They need to work together and share learning, insight and best practice with each other.
In the past, there was a tendency for some gambling sectors to fight their own corners. This resulted in less constructive consequences in terms of achieving beneficial legislative and regulatory change. However, the gambling industry that embraced the concept of collaboration achieved more benefits from the Commission.
This year should be the time to send a message towards the Gambling Commission that all sectors of the gambling industry (remote and not-remote) are united. United in recognising the importance of strengthening player protections, making effective customer interactions and identifying the signals of potential harm from gambling.
Over the new year, UK’s land-based casino sector is well-placed. It will play a heavily influential role for other gambling sectors. There is an initiative of Playing Safe which includes the current field tests of the Focal Research Alert system for gambling risk identifications. This was started by the NCF in 2014.
In the recent FATF (Financial Action Task Force) finding, the UK’s casino industry appear to have a good understanding of their risks and are applying sufficient mitigation measures. This lays a firm foundation in taking a lead to achieve the Gambling Commission’s aim that British players should enjoy the fairest and safest gambling in the world.
This is the way that shows that hope exists in the industry of casino operation and it will also achieve the harmonisation and moderation that is greatly desired. These are the good news for 2019.