The United Kingdom’s gambling watchdog has recently started an investigation into the activities of leading online casino 888’s subsidiary. The company in question has come in the cross hairs of the regulator because of concerns that it wasn’t taking sufficient steps to protect the interests of its customers.
Companies licensed to offer online gambling services in the United Kingdom are expected to conform to a number of rules, some of which are concerned with social responsibility. Exposure to gambling can lead to problem behaviours, as the anti-gambling lobby is quick to point out, and the accessibility and convenience of online gambling sites make their customers especially vulnerable. There have been many instances of people losing huge amounts of money at online gambling sites. Therefore, governments that allow online gambling tend put in place a number of regulations that are designed to help gamblers manage their activities at online casinos.
The UK Gambling Commission requires online operators to provide customers with a tool for self-exclusion from gambling. Customers can make use of these tools to set limits on how much and when they gamble. Customers can also use a self-exclusion tool to block themselves from the gambling site for specific duration of time, generally starting from six months. Gambling sites operating in the UK are also expected to offer a time-out feature for customers who want to stay away from the site for a day, a week, a month, or even six weeks.
It goes without saying that gambling operators aren’t particularly happy about the social responsibility regulations they have to conform to (even though they don’t have a choice in the matter). As a matter of fact, leading bookmaker William Hill has said that these self-exclusions have been given so much importance of late that its profits have felt a negative effect.
The news of the investigation by UKGC has spooked investors, with the company’s share prices dropping a substantial 7% to touch 279p. 888 has reacted to these developments by announcing that it was committed to providing its customers with a responsible and fun gaming experience. 888 has also said that it will be working along with the commission to find a solution to the problem.
Commenting on the issue, well-known brokerage Peel Hunt pointed out that 888 was a very responsible company. However, it would still most likely have to pay a large fine in punishment. In addition, it would probably also have to make some changes in the way the erring business operates. The company went on to say that the commission increasingly preferred to use public processes to regulate the industry. Companies would be very careful to conform to regulations for fear of facing bad publicity that can be very bad for business.
The UKGC has increased its efforts to bring about responsible gambling. It is doing this by ensuring that online gambling operators have all the information they require to offer their services responsibly. It has to be pointed out that BGO Entertainment, a Guernsey-based company, had to face a fine amounting to £300,000 on account of its misleading advertising campaigns for its website and that of its affiliates conducted from July 2015 to July 2016.
The Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice had been amended in May 2015 to require operators to refrain from misleading consumers on any subject. In other words, they will have to spell out the details of all promotional offers very clearly so that customers know exactly what they are entitled to and how they can get them.
While the UKGC refused to comment on the issue, 888 said that it would provide an update on it at the earliest.