Problem gambling is a huge topic at the moment. It seems a day doesn’t go by without another new problem gambling story.
One of the most recent problem gambling stories reveals that a gambler who lost £125,000 with LeoVegas and Casumo still received bonus adverts to encourage her to keep playing.
The player, a 42-year-old former successful accountant called Katie, said that the casinos were willingly ignoring her obvious signs of addiction.
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has been taking lots of action over the past 18 months, implementing new measures and conducting investigations into how to make problem gambling safer.
In this blog post today, we will explore how casino bonuses can be made safer for all players and particularly problem gamblers.
Problems with Bonuses
The UKGC has stated that they are concerned with the way casino bonuses are advertised and promoted.
For those with gambling problems, bonus adverts can be incredibly enticing and ultimately, lead them to engaging in the destructive behaviours they are wanting to desperately avoid.
Furthermore, the actual content of the bonus promotions is a cause of concern for the UKGC.
There are many who believe that some operators are deliberately misleading their players with attractive adverts, whilst not clearly setting out the full terms and conditions.
The UKGC has said that any operator who is found to be offering bonuses without clearly indicating the terms risks receiving hefty fines.
Neil McArthur, the CEO of the UKGC, has spoken of the need for operators to do more to help safeguard players, stating that:
“We expect operators to know their customers and to ask the right questions to make sure they meet their anti-money laundering and social responsibility obligations.”
How to Make Bonuses Safer?
So, what can be done to make casino bonuses safer?
Clearer Terms and Conditions on Adverts
Firstly, it is essential that the adverts for casino bonuses and promotions become clearer. Too often we see the big enticing numbers like free £100 or £200 welcome package, but with little else.
These types of big numbers are a sure way to grab people’s attention, but if we want to make casino bonuses safer, the key terms and conditions ought to be in clear view on the advert itself.
Clear terms and conditions are necessary to make bonuses safer and, in our opinion, the following information should be clearly visible within any casino bonus advert when relevant:
- Wagering requirements
- Wagering contributions of different games
- Eligible games for the bonus
- Minimum deposit requirements
- Maximum winnings from the bonus
With this information, players will be able to make a more informed decision about whether they go ahead with a bonus or promotion.
It might just help to stop those with a growing gambling problem to stop before it gets out of hand.
Lower Wagering Requirements
Of course, casinos need to make money and we are not suggesting that wagering requirements should become a thing of the past.
However, it cannot be denied that excessive wagering requirements do not exactly encourage responsible gambling.
We feel excessive wagering requirements are within the region of 60x or more. With these kinds of wagering requirements, players need to deposit considerable amounts before they can even get their hands on bonus winnings.
For those with a gambling problem, this is not the type of behaviour they want to be engaging in.
Fewer Casino Bonus Adverts
There have been many stories recently of problem gamblers being bombarded with casino bonus adverts.
Most worryingly, this has reportedly even happened when players have signed-up to self-exclusion schemes.
As we have alluded to, these kinds of adverts can lead problem gamblers to splurge money and slip into overspending and overplaying.
Ultimately, it is the operator’s responsibility to ensure that they safeguard their players, and this is something which the UKGC and the government has emphasised.
It is simply not right that those with gambling problems receive repeated casino bonus adverts and promotions on a daily basis.
Ensure Self-Exclusion Schemes Work Effectively
It is also essential that self-exclusion schemes work in the manner they are supposed to. If a player has signed-up to a self-exclusion scheme including one at a particular casino, they simply should not be receiving casino bonus adverts from that casino.
New UKGC Rulings
The UKGC is concerned with the prevalence of problem gambling in UK society and has stressed on many occasions the need for more regulation and a concerted effort among many parties to tackle the issue.
The UKGC has recently implemented a much lower limit on fixed betting odds terminals in UK betting shops nationwide. From now, the highest possible bet on what some deemed ‘crack cocaine machines’ these machines will be £2, rather than the previous maximum bet of £100.
Also, from May, new identity checks will be introduced. These new rulings require new players to complete identification checks before making any deposits or playing with bonuses at online casinos.
Finally, new regulations have been implemented around casino adverts in a bid to help safeguard children and those underage from online gambling.
The UK government has also given hints that a ban on using credit cards at online casinos could come into effect if the UKGC recommends such a move in a report which is due to be released in May.
The government has repeatedly made assurances to the UKGC that they are willing to take the steps necessary to help get a grip on problem gambling.
The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, stated earlier this year that:
“Protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm is vital.
All businesses with connections to gambling – be that bookmakers, social media platforms or banks – must be socially responsible.”
Steps in the Right Direction
The new UKGC rulings around identity checks, as well as the ban on the use of animated characters and certain celebrities on casino adverts, are steps in the right direction.
These new measures should definitely help to stop those who are underage from gambling online and being exposed to online gambling.
Also, hopefully, the identity checks should help stop bonus fraud too which, according to Iovation Product Marketing Manager Angie White, is the number one type of reported fraud.
With bonus fraud, fraudsters sign-up to online casinos and set up multiple new accounts, taking advantage of the bonuses on offer.
And the Future?
In a recent report released by the UKGC highlighting the commission’s strategy in 2019-20, Neil Mcarthur said that:
“Our overriding objective is to make gambling fairer and safer for consumers”.
Clearly, this demonstrates the UKGC’s ongoing commitment to make gambling safer. These UKGC’s warnings around casino bonus adverts and online casino practice in general appears to be having an effect.
Some operators have even gone as far as significantly reducing their bonus offerings which, whilst not really necessary, does show that they are taking the UKGC warnings seriously.
If further positive steps are taken, casino bonuses can become safer for all players and consequently, help to rebuild the trust between operators and players.