Last Thursday (February 7) the UK Gambling Commission announced an updated set of online gaming rules that are designed to make online gambling safer for children and vulnerable individuals, fairer for customers and extremely unconducive for criminals. Set to come into effect on May 7, the new were rules were arrived at after open consultation with various stakeholders, all of whom have a shared interest in the prosperity and longevity of the UK’s online gambling industry.

Safety First

The United Kingdom’s online gambling market is arguably the biggest regulated online gaming market on the planet but there are, of course, a good number of challenged that come with the title. Underage and problem gambling are perhaps the biggest problems as noted by various watchdogs in the territory. Fortunately, the gambling commission is making tremendous strides towards ensuring that both minors and people at risk of gambling-related harm are safe. The new rules are certainly a great place to start.

To begin with, the 72-hour grace period within which online gaming operators were allowed to perform identity checks has been slashed in a bid to get rid of the loopholes that made it easy for people below the age of 18 and registered problem gamblers to access gaming services online. Operators will be required to completely restrict individuals from gambling unless their identities have been verified. This rule will apply to the so-called free spins, free bets, and bonus games as well.

“While free-to-play games are not technically gambling (there is no prize involved), there is no legitimate reason why they should be available to children,” the UK Gambling Commission’s officials said in a statement.

One of the things that motivated the move is the findings of a number of market reports which reveal a worrying trend in the gaming industry – the number of underage gamblers has increased significantly and the number of problem gamblers has remained largely the same despite the measures that have been put in place to reduce it.

Curbing Criminal Activities

Fairness in the gambling industry is often the biggest concern for consumers and this apparently applies to the withdrawal requirements that they are subject to. Customers have filed complaints with the UK Gambling Commission regarding the fact that many online gaming operators often ask them to provide additional identification from them whenever they need to withdraw funds from their accounts.

Fortunately, the commission has included clauses in their new regulations to take care of these complaints. Its licenses will now not only be required to ask for any additional information promptly and on time, but they will also have to collect all of the necessary information beforehand in order to speed up the withdrawal process. In other words, operators are not allowed to ask for identification documents as a condition for cashing out, Other than just making the withdrawal process more convenient for consumers, this decree will further provide “sturdier prevention of gambling-related harm and detection of criminal activity.”