UK citizens are gambling more per head than any other country in the world. The good thing is that Britain has some of the most advanced regulation and laws in the world in regards to gambling. Betting sites that are operating in the UK are required to promote responsible gambling to all their customers in a continuous effort to protect vulnerable people.
We all know how exciting is to predict the correct outcome of an event and win money in the process. Gambling when done in the right way it is entertaining and can make you feel alive and confident. For the exact same reasons though it can also become addictive and betting sites are required to offer many tools and services to promote responsible gambling. In this guide, we have highlighted what those tools are and how you can use them. You will also find where to get independent advice if needed, how to set up parental control, what are the requirements of a gambling license and a lot more.
If you want to know more details around gambling licenses take a look at our guide on licensing and law.
Responsible Gambling: What It Is?
Gambling is an enjoyable activity, and it is not surprising to see that lots of people are struggling when they have to stop. In some circumstances, we need someone else to help us regain control so that we can bet responsibly, have fun and avoid the side effects of gambling that can be destructive. The law is there to help us doing so: not to make us stopping completely the bet but to do it in a controlled and fun way.
Even if there are other opinions, the main aim of betting sites is not to take every penny out of us. Gambling sites are running a much better business if their customers are gambling in a responsible and affordable way and the reason is that if you do in this way, you will be a long-standing customer. That will mean that you will still enjoy your flutters and they will earn more in the long run.
There are lots of tools that will help you to gamble responsibly, and those are going from self-exclusion to deposit limits. We have looked at all those features in this article so read on to know more. Some people prefer a tool over the other, and this is subjective: the most important thing is that you should use whatever tool will help you gambling responsibly and still keep the fun side of it.
Some betting sites are required by the 2014 Gambling Act to provide their customers with responsible gambling tools. Some operators though go the extra mile and offer an additional range of tools: you can find those included in our betting site reviews.
Gambling Commission: What It Is?
The UK Gambling Commission is the body that regulates the gambling industry: they issue gambling licenses and also enforces the legislation. It is an independent public body that is reporting to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It was firstly created by the Gambling Act of 2005.
The Gambling Commission is there to regulate bookmakers and gambling operators but also to protect the punters. By going to their website, you can check the bookmakers that have a UK gambling license. You will find in our individual betting site reviews all the details of their license including the license numbers.
The Gambling Commission does not regulate spread betting as this is under the responsibility of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What Betting Sites Are Required To Do By Law?
The Gambling Act of 2014 has required that all operators that wish to transact or advertise to punters in the UK will need a gambling commission license.
Bookmakers have to :
Follow the Gambling Act and regulations
Report suspicious criminal activities
Ensure gambling is done in a transparent and fair manner
Protect Children and vulnerable to be harmed by gambling
Provide tools like self-exclusion and provide help to those people that might have been affected by gambling problems
Keep a high level of technical standards (i.e. random number generator software, etc.)
Offer and promote time-out, deposit limits and automatic self-exclusion tools.
So as you can see a big part of the betting sites tasks is to provide tools and promote responsible gambling. There isn’t a unique way to do so, and this is the reason why betting sites are offering a different range of tools that are all working towards the same objective.
What Are The Tasks That Betting Sites Are Doing To Help Gamble Responsibly?
In addition to self-exclusion bookmakers are doing a lot to protect gamblers. Instead of waiting for the regulators to force them via the law they have proactively created their own voluntary code: this code has been signed up by the UK’s biggest betting operators which are William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power.
With this voluntary code those betting companies have agreed to:
Ban on TV advertising before 9pm
Ban on advertising gaming machines in betting shops windows
Give 20% of advertising space to promote responsible gambling
The above measures have been taken in addition to those of the Association of British Bookmakers (AAB) that came in force in 2015. Those are:
Create Senet Group which is a new independent body that is guided by an independent standards commissioner
Provide funds for TV advertising campaigns that will promote responsible gambling.
Make sure all advertisements will have responsible gambling messages included.
What Will Happen If A Bookmaker Breaks The Gambling Law?
Depending on how severe is the breach they can have their license revoked, and as a consequence, they will be banned for trading in the UK. Once the license is gone to take it back might take years so this is not something a betting operator will want to face.
The Gambling Commission, however, will first try to resolve the matter before taking the license away. If the Gambling Commission opt for formal action, then criminal proceeding will be actioned against the betting operator. You can see more info about this in our licensing guide.
888 Fined £7.8 By The Commission For Failing To Protect Vulnerable Customers
The problem was around customers who had self-excluded from 888. As a result, they were prevented from gambling on sports or casino, but there was a loop-hole in 888 system that allowed them to still gamble on online bingo.
As a result, more than 7000 customers were allowed to make £3.5M in deposits even though they were excluded. Once customer sustained a loss of £1.3M after playing 3-4 hours a day in 13 months.
Surely 888 had significant responsibilities here, but it was clear that they didn’t allow excluded customers to gamble deliberately and they worked with the Gambling Commission investigating and accepted their fine. We do list 888 in this site as we fully trust that they are committed to responsible gambling: they did make a big mistake and were punished by the Gambling Commission who didn’t revoke their license.
As we have mentioned above, customers who are gambling in the UK are protected by some of the best gambling laws in the world. If you believe that a betting company is not acting in line with those and it is not protecting customers, you should file a complaint. If you want to know more about complain take a look at our complaints article.
Ladbrokes Coral Fined £2.3M Due To Gala Interactive Issues
The issue was about two customers who were able to gamble £1.3M with Gala Interactive brand using stolen funds. Gala Interactive is owned by Ladbrokes-Coral group and despite those two customers clearly had signs that they were affected by gambling issues, Gala didn’t investigate the problem enough and failed to take action. One of those two customers lost more than £837k over 14 months and the other more than £432k in just below one year by playing Gala online games.
The main problem found by the Gambling Commission was that Gala didn’t interact appropriately with those two customers despite those having all the traits of being affected by gambling issues.
The fine was, therefore, a clear sign of warning to others betting companies to review and refine their responsible gambling procedures. Ladbrokes-Coral was ordered to repay back £1.3 million to the theft victims and also pay £1M to improve the research into the causes of gambling problems. Both the customers were found guilty and were sentenced to 4 years in prison.
Considering Gala is an experienced brand and part of a massive company there is no excuse for their failure. In addition to that, the exact issue was raised with them previously.
William Hill Fined £6.2M For Lacking Money Laundering Controls
The issue was caused by 10 players who were permitted to deposit money from 2014 to 2016 that they obtained from criminal activity. William Hill made £1,200,000 profit from this business.
There were clear examples of misconduct from William Hill:
1 – A customer was permitted to deposit around £550,000 with the only verification being a phone call where the player said that he was earning a £300k+ salary. In reality, the salary was just £30k a year, and the rest of the money was coming from illegal activity.
2 – Another player was permitted to deposit around £150,000 and lost more than £110,000 over 12 months without any responsible gambling action being taken by the operator.
3 – A customer made a deposit of £650k in the same period, and even though the account was flagged as a money laundering risk the procedure failed, and that player was permitted to bet for another 6 months before actions were taken on his account.
As a result of the investigation, the Gambling Commission decided to issue a £5M fine to William Hill, in addition, to repay the £1.2M in profit. Again this is a powerful message sent by the Commission that UK licensed companies will never get away with unclear activity. It also explains why betting sites are required to verify your identity, age and source of funds.
32Red £2M Fine As Didn’t Protect A Vulnerable Customer
32Red which is part of Kindred group was also fined £2,000,000 in 2018 as the investigation found systemic failure in protecting a vulnerable customer with gambling problems.
The customer was allowed to make more than £750,000 in deposits, and there were more than 20 indicators that pointed towards gambling problems, yet 32Red didn’t carry out any financial and social checks, and in doing so, they breached their license rules.
Not only the customer was not helped, but he was also offered continuous bonuses to encourage him to bet further. At one point the customer won more than £1M, but immediately he gambled this back again. 32Red didn’t act even at that stage.
32Red was therefore asked to repay the £700k in profit and also to donate a further £1.3M to the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.
What Are The Responsible Gambling Tools Available?
The tools we will describe here are powerful and tested to help control your gambling. These features will not in itself control the way you bet but they will be beneficial if you have made already the decision to gamble responsibly.
Every betting sites are required to offer a self-exclusion feature. This will permit to exclude yourself from betting with that operator for a period of time. The periods will change depending on the operator, but it usually goes from 24 hours to 5 years. You can also request to be excluded permanently.
At the moment there isn’t still a system that will allow you to exclude yourself from every betting site at once. There are services though that will enable you to to self-exclude from both online and also on the related brand betting shops. You can ready the bookmakers self-exclusion policies for each of them in the ‘responsible gambling’ section of our betting sites guides.
Cooling Off Period
This is a self-exclusion tool that will normally act over a shorter time period. Cooling off can be anything from 5 minutes and over and will place a stop to all your bets during this time. This tool can be handy in casino games where you can bet every single second.
Stopping to bet for 5 minutes or more can be really helpful for you to stop and assess how much you want to continue gambling and if you’re going to continue at all.
Deposit Limits & Loss Limits
This is one of the best ways to reduce the impact of gambling losses. All the betting sites will have to provide this service. You can set up a limit for how much you can deposit during a period of time which can be a day, a week or a month. When you reach that limit, the betting site will not allow you to deposit further money.
Some betting sites will also offer loss limit restrictions: for example, you can set losses at £100/week. Once you have reached that limit, you will need to wait for another period to modify that restriction.
Obviously this tool it requires your commitment as ultimately nobody is going to stop you from switching to another betting site and going over your predefined limit.
Time Restrictions & Time Out Tools
Those tools are getting more popular amongst UK betting sites following the new rules that have been released at the end of 2015. It will allow you to restrict the time that you spend on a betting site in several ways. For example, you can set up a limit that you can stay on a betting site during a day or a week.
Timeout tools are particularly beneficial for those users that tend to spend lots of time on casino games, slots etc. They can be modified but cannot be changed back immediately.
Time out tools are mainly used to limit the amount of time you spend on games, slots and casino. These can be set manually but cannot be changed back immediately.
With those tools, you can exclude yourself only from certain parts of a site or limit your access to some sections. Most people tend for example to sign up to place some sports bets, but they might end up losing more on casino games or other sections.
By being able to limit the access to the sections where you struggle to control your gambling activity, you would still be able to place your bets without having temptations problems.
By limiting access to sections where you find issues in controlling you gambling you can still enjoy placing a bet without the added temptations.
Customer History To Control Betting
A great thing about online betting is that everything is tracked digitally. This means that you can look at your betting activity and check that you are gambling responsibly. All the betting sites will offer betting history and in most cases, you can also explore in excel.
Parental Control Services
In the UK it is illegal to gamble if you are below 18 and both UK bookmakers and the Gambling Commission are committed to enforcing this rule fully. The operator and the minor will both be committing a crime if betting or allowing betting before the age of 18.
This is the main reason why you are required to prove your age every time you open a new betting account. There are many tools you can use to protect your own children or employers from online gambling (Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, Gam Block, etc.)
What Can You Do To Help Keep Track Of Betting?
First thing is honest with yourself. There are questions provided by Gambling Addictions Charities that will help you carry out a self-assessment to see if you are actually at risk of developing gambling problems or if you are addicted. Simply go to BeGambleAware.com and carry out a self-assessment if you have concerns.
Make sure you have it clear how much you can afford to gamble before you start betting and not later. Having a diary of the bets, you have made, and the ones you are planning to place will also be helpful. If you have a deposit limit, this is very useful as you can plan your betting so that your money will last for the whole period and you would still place the bets on the events that you are interested in.
When you bet directly from your bank account, it might become difficult to check your profit and losses as the transactions will be mixed with all the others day to day activities (groceries, etc.). Using a digital wallet dedicated to gambling like PayPal or Skrill can be a good idea as it will help you to track your winnings and losses much easier. Another way to reduce your gambling impulse is to fund your accounts with cash voucher systems like PaySafeCard. You can check our banking section to find all details about payment options.
Online Betting & Betting Shop
There are pro and cons in regards to gambling problems when it comes to online betting and traditional betting in shops. If you have a problem moving from shop to online or the other way around it won’t give you any benefit. You will have to resolve the issue first.
Most people think that betting online is more anonymous: this is not true as betting sites are required to monitor your activity and express concerns if there are strange behaviours.
Discuss With Someone You Trust
All of us might need help in life sometimes, and if you do have gambling problems, it will be helpful to speak with someone you trust. In the section below you can also look at finding formal advice services but also try to talk to people that you trust.
How Can I Help Someone That Has Gambling Problem
Helping someone suffering from addiction is not easy and there are not perfect recipes. The best approach is to speak with them and see how much they are prepared to say. Asking them to do a self-assessment can be a good starting point.
If you believe that person has issues with a particular betting site, you might want to get in touch and flag to them. They will be obliged to take your concerns seriously and will likely to stop the account until they have adequately investigated the pattern. If they do not act on it, you can contact the gambling commission directly expressing your concerns.
Also, try to speak with professionals services as you can see some of the names below.
What Are Gambling Advice Available?
Visit your GP – make sure you also visit your doctor as gambling might be used as an escape to other problems like depression, and there might be other issues that would have to be treated accurately.