WHAT RISKS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH UNDER-AGED GAMBLING IN THE UK?

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Gambling has become an important market for many companies and developers. The industry is only growing with time and keeps on attracting more and more people. Gamblers are fascinated with impressive graphics and captivating games. Though with the growing popularity of gambling, some of the existing major problems and risk factors are due to increase as well… What are we referring to?

Measure in place

Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called upon the UK government to track illegal gambling operations within its constituent nations. What is more, there is a concrete proposal or a new bill to address illegal gambling activities. It is known as the Online Harms Bill. The BGC sees the bill as one of the solutions to control under-aged gamblers. The new measure will also tackle unregulated operators, who are operating on the UK market without a specific license. One of its objectives is to effectively shut down non-verified operators.

Under-age gambling is an increasing concern for the country as a whole. This became a big issue, since most of the unverified operators enable under-aged people visiting online gambling websites, without ID verification.

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Online Harms Bill is soon to be introduced to the House of Commons. The bill will also provide new regulation, concerning child protection from terrorist materials. The first mention of the bill was in the Queen’s Speech. Since then, it has been set as a priority subject and lies on the top of the shelf for the governing Conservative Party.

Some other countries have also faced the same issue, in the past several years. One of them is Australia. Australia saw the rapid growth of the under-aged gamblers, due to the unverified operators, operating illegally on the local market. Government aims to implement a new face recognition system in all online casinos in Australia, without exception. The government also removed any doubts about uncertified operators. It put the record straight, by amending the existing legislation, which banned them from operating on the market. With all of the efforts put into the gambling industry and casinos in Australia, the rate has started shifting downwards.

The face recognition system identifies the user, accessing the account. It then checks the user against the database. This means that under-aged people will no longer be able to gamble with their parents’ accounts, nor they will be able to use face ID, to create an account with an online casino.

What we know: studies that have been conducted

BGC was the main authority to conduct the research. They have found out that four out of 10 search results for gambling-related terms resulted in links to an internationally licensed online gambling web page. The research was conducted using 47 search terms and resulted in 8825 organic search results. 78% of the searches were related to gambling.

The UK government was able to identify 229 illegal operators, who did not hold a UK gambling license. The UK licensed operators do not tolerate under-aged gamblers, while the international operator usually turns a “blind eye” to the age of the gambler. This is essentially the problem.

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$1.82 billion has been wagered with international operators in the past one year. It is estimated that over 200,000 gamblers from the UK engaged with the illegal sites. 27 million visits from the UK-registered IP addresses could be tracked to non-UK licensed operators. And this might be just the tip of an ice-berg.

The chief executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher has commented on the new initiative and the research, which has been conducted just now. He stressed the point that search engines and platforms are promoting black-market gambling and that this is done for the profit, something he finds extremely irresponsible.

Dugher welcomed a steady implementation of the Online Harms Bill. He said that this is a great opportunity for the government to shut down the black market and protect British citizens online. It is also a measure to support UK operators, who have been contributing a lot towards creating a safe and responsible gambling environment.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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