Should EU Gambling Commissions Keep Getting Tougher on Legal Online Casinos?

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Online casino and sports gambling have come a long way and are now arguably the most preferred ways of betting. Almost every punter and casino player are now shifting towards placing sports bets and playing lotteries, poker, and slot machines online using their smartphones and laptops. However, the view of gambling as a largely harmless way to have fun is not shared by everyone. 

There are numerous countries that see gambling as an entirely harmful activity due to the possibility of addiction, money laundering, and underage gaming. In these countries, online gambling remains banned. Countries like Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, and some states in the United States have legalised online gambling. 

Many more are in various stages of initiating and creating legal frameworks for online gambling. Some players, however, already feel that the rules and regulations being set by European Gambling Commissions are gradually getting tougher, and could soon stifle the industry. 

What are the EU Rules for Legal Online Gambling?

To keep online gambling fun, fair, and safe, the European Gambling Commissions are continuously formulating and refining existing regulations. There is—with good reason—a legal age requirement that every player should prove to be above before they can gamble. That’s why players now have to go through a KYC process within 72 hours before playing games. 

Before, gamblers could play and go through customer identification when they want to make their first withdrawal. Some countries also limit online gamblers from depositing money that’s above a specific threshold and playing too much. According to European anti-money laundering laws, operators should perform risk-based assessments on their customers to stay safe from fraud, money laundering, and other crime risks.

The UK Gambling Commission recently banned the use of credit cards for online gambling. UK players are, therefore, left with a debit card, e-wallet, prepaid card, and bank transfer options. Every online gambling site in the UK is also required to be part of the Gamstop self-exclusion program. These two regulations were introduced as a way to avoid addiction and gambling debt.  

The Case for Relaxed Regulations on Legal Online Gambling

Everyone seems to agree that some rules and regulations are required to keep online gambling a safe and healthy pastime. As such, some rules like the player identification, age limits, advertising rules, and anti-money laundering policies, are good. But EU regulators should also be careful not to overregulate online gambling. Too much rigidity will likely have undesirable side effects. In their pursuit to control everything, they might end up controlling nothing. When players have too many rules between them and the best gambling experience, they tend to move to other markets.

The increase seems to be based on UK players searching for Curacao and casinos not on Gamstop. Players are also looking for offshore casinos where they can play using their credit cards. Too many rigid rules and regulations are resulting in this shift from local to offshore gambling sites. So along with the advantages of regulating online casinos, tougher regulations may also come with even more harmful downsides for the players and operators. 

A robust legal online gambling industry is good for EU economies in terms of income and employment generation. It also keeps authorities in control of the welfare of citizens. When rules and regulations drive players to other gambling jurisdictions, there’s less control of the possible outcomes. Economic activity floats out of the region, addiction issues may have less support, and rogue operators are tough to rein in. 

The Conclusion

Each year, some players end up struggling with problem gambling-related issues. However, online casino regulators shouldn’t lose sight of the needs of the bulk of healthy, in-control gamblers. Granted, gambling debt and addiction may be growing challenges in Europe. Most players, however, still have enough sense and maturity to regulate their own gambling time and budget. Also, when vulnerable players are being pushed to gamble on shady online gambling sites, it defeats logic to keep tightening gambling rules and regulations. 

Instead of taking an entirely regulatory strategy, EU online gambling regulators may need a more holistic approach that addresses the key drivers of gambling addiction. There may also be a need to try to walk the fine line between keeping vulnerable players safe and ensuring that gambling remains fun for everyone else. 

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