UK Government Wants More Protection For Online Gamblers

Last month the UK’s Minister of Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose, called for sweeping changes in Britain’s gambling laws, specifically, online gambling. Penrose wants to change the regulations governing the National Lottery, online roulette, bingo, poker, and blackjack. Penrose’s call came after the UK Gambling Commission released figures that showed that the popularity of online gambling in the UK is increasing. Penrose has long suggested that all online gambling companies accepting wagers and providing games for UK residents should be required to obtain a UK gambling license and pay taxes in the United Kingdom.

Penrose hopes that requiring online gambling sites to obtain a UK gambling commission license will provide added protection for British punters and problem gamblers. Penrose told reporters “Overseas operators get an unfair advantage over UK based companies, and British consumers who gamble online may have little or no protection depending on where the operator they deal with happens to be based.” Penrose may be partially right. Regulation in licensing jurisdictions ranges from strict to virtually no regulation at all. In the past several rogue gaming sites have exploited customers in the US, Europe and the UK.

Penrose says his proposal will provide “a much more consistent and higher level of protection for those people in the UK who gamble online.” He believes that new regulations will “help fight illegal activity and corruption in betting.” Penrose has proposed that online gaming operators would be required to report suspicious betting patterns to the UK Gambling Commission. The latest figures released by the gambling commission show a steady increase in the number of online gamblers, up 0.1% from the same time last year. The gambling commission also says that as smart phones become more affordable more people are taking advantage of mobile gambling applications offered by online gambling sites.

One report by the online bingo industry showed a huge increase in the number of mobile players. According to a recent Gambling Commission report only 12% of those surveyed said they engaged in some form of online gambling. 50% said they had played the National Lottery. Most industry experts say that mobile gaming will drive industry growth in 2011-12 and beyond. Mobile gaming offers players instant access and convenience. As mobile technology evolves experts say that mobile gambling will become even more popular.  Minister Penrose wants to make sure that mobile gamblers are afforded the same protections enjoyed by players at sites licensed in the UK.

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