Casino laws and regulations: What’s on the horizon?

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Regulatory trends emerge in the casino industry, yet there is a lack of understanding about the prevalence and implications of policy change. Get objective insights on what to expect in the future regarding casinos and gambling.

The current state of online casinos in the European UnionGambling sites are now as regulated as they’ve ever been, particularly in the United Kingdom and European Union markets. This is thanks to the strict legislation standards imposed by licensing authorities like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, The Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen) and the Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden).

Other state institutions or acts with similar responsibilities are the Austrian Lottery Licence, the Greek Gambling Law, Italy’s Autonomous Administration of Game Monopolies, and other specific legislation in France, Portugal, and Spain.

The current state of online casinos in North AmericaIf the EU countries have similar cases, in the American continent where online stakes are allowed, each area has a different status.

Mexico and its regulationsA Gaming Law enforces Gaming Regulation, although the provisions are not always very nuanced. Even so, precedent shows that these rules are followed and applied by operators.

The USA has its own state by state routeIn the United States, due to differentiation between Federal and local legislation, each state allows for their own choices. Some activities are permitted in New Jersey (through the Division of Gaming Enforcement), Delaware (under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection), Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Iowa: anything from casino games to sports betting. Other states like California are still in their “work in progress” phase.

Canadian gambling legislationThe latest reports by CasinoAlpha show that progress has been made in creating a safe place for online casino customers. Two regulatory bodies, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation have the sole purpose of regulating businesses and events that deal with luck-based games.

Kahnawake Gaming Commission gives grants to online casinos after thorough analysis on their business plans and the way they handle games and payments in terms of fairness. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation focuses on regulating Lotteries (as they’ve been doing since 1975) and recently they have expanded to regulate online slot machines. They provide a safety net for both Canadian gamblers and employees in the iGaming and land-based gambling industry.

Licensing benefits all parties involved 

Here are three of the most compelling reasons why states are passing legislation to create or authorise casino gambling.

  1. The online gambling space becomes a safer place for customers because licensed casinos must create and present tools that put space and time between the gambler and their next session. Obviously, excessive play is minimised.
  2. Better rules are imposed in games and in the terms that formulate the usage of a gambling product. This attracts customers who feel they have a safety net when they play and enlarges the pool of customers for businesses.
  3. States that allow online gambling will collect taxes either from businesses and their income, either from players' wins, or both, depending on the state’s legislation.

Obviously, these are just the top reasons out of a longer list. Even so, evidence shows that granting legality to luck-based games and appoint rules on such activities benefits everyone. 

What can we expect in the future?Tighter rules are essentially tied to the expansion of the worldwide market. So, with this in mind, we’re going to take a look at the regulations that are likely to happen in the near future with regard to online gambling.

No more playing multiple slot games simultaneouslyCurrently, mobile users can play slot games on the split-screen option. Alternatively, they might be able to use one single casino account to play on browser and mobile at the same time. This option might disappear soon.

A February 2021 UKGC proposal wants to put a stop to that. The reason is simple: playing a single game is a way of focusing on one single goal and distancing yourself from excessive bets or the dangerous instinct of chasing losses.

The change once voted and imposed, will disallow operators to give access to games on multiple screens. Consequently, UKGC-licensed casinos that do not follow this rule will be fined, or their licence will be withdrawn.

More time imposed between slot roundsOnline slots are widely consumed, so naturally, most future changes are centred on them.

We might be witnesses to a regulation that slows down the rapid pace of slot games. The suggestion currently discussed is to have 2.5 seconds of interruption between every spin. Thus, the repetitive nature would be decreased, solving both the issue of drained funds and the tendency to play more.

Critics say that even this pause is not enough to decrease the potential risks. However, the talks are not even remotely finished. So, time will tell what the conclusions will be.

Disallowing operators to make it hard for players to withdrawAt some point in time, reverse withdrawals were freely permitted and sometimes even prominent. However, this negatively impacted players at risk since it allowed them to return, and stake money just won.

The more conservative voices in the current debated propose a ban on reverse withdrawals. The midway conclusions have reached a point where an outright ban will be imposed, but the process itself will be restricted more.

Players will be the ones deciding on their cash out preferences on a case-by-case basis. Even so, casino sites will be obligated to make the withdrawal course fast, smooth, and locked by safe encryptions.

Free and obligatory access to gambling blocking softwareSince the most efficient way to interrupt and heal from gambling addiction is to stop “cold turkey”, gambling blocking sites and apps have been essential therapeutical tools in the last decades. 

The ongoing debates propose that casinos will be obligated by law to visibly have a button that redirects to such software and even allow access to the service free of charge for those who need it. 

The evidence that prompted this idea came from debates from gamblers and gambling businesses alike. The assessment was to what degree such online tools are helpful.

We can't know for sure if these details will change the legislation in the form they are currently shared around the public space. Monetary details need to be defined and accepted by both parties before it becomes a reality. 

Stricter regulations on “in-play” betting“In-play” betting allows gamblers to make bets on sporting events that are live and ongoing at the time when the stakes are allowed. At face value, this would make it easier for players to cash out what they have at a given moment, to avoid losses if the game/match is not going as expected.

The disadvantages are in regards to how fast and accurate the information is updated on the betting platforms. Thousands of events are ongoing simultaneously, and it is challenging to have live updates that are always correct. 

The future laws relating to these will regulate what conditions can match changes affect bets, making it a proper place for both operators and players. However, significant changes have yet to be decided; the latest updates contain just talks between the parties involved: casinos, teams, players, licensing authorities, etc.

Broader approach on minimising harm in the online gambling spaceAll the factors approached should fit a wider image of awareness regarding online gambling and its potential risks. 

Thus, governments around the world, after organising debates with residents and gambling specialists, are developing plans to integrate measures that deal with:

  • A joint effort from all fronts to educate gamblers and gamblers' families and peers on the risks of over-playing.
  • Gambling operators having more responsibility and bring more solutions to counteract issues.
  • Not allowing the advertisements of gambling products for the vulnerable, especially minors.
  • Assuring that the businesses involved are compliant with the national and international legislation by imposing fees and punishments if necessary.

Our analysis is conducted after database research

All the information tackled in this article was summarised after open discussions from licensing authorities. Additionally, we also observed the trends put forwards by the NGOs that deal exclusively with helping vulnerable gamblers in their battle with gambling addiction.

The continuous and massive expansion of online gambling will only fuel these changes and make regulators and regulations more rigid in the future.

And that is the most significant advantage a gambler has: for laws to be it on their side!

This article was written in cooperation with Tudor Turiceanu