Who will benefit from an online wagering limit?

Viktor Vangelov | Published 12 Nov 2019, 3:36 p.m.

We already reported that UK authorities are seriously considering putting a wagering limit on online casinos to reflect a similar stake limit applied on FOBTs since April this year. The all-party parliamentary group that deals with issues regarding gambling related harm has already put forward a proposal to have this limit set at £2.

After the session in the UK parliament was held, the operators’ share price dropped significantly. The report that was submitted to parliament is based on findings that were gathered for six months. The reasoning behind the proposal is that there is no justification for a higher limit on online games compared to FOBTs, i.e. that it would be fair to introduce a similar limit.

A stake limit would drive players to offshore sites

Those who oppose online gambling, i.e. are pushing for more restrictive legislation have their reasons, but the proposal is rather controversial, and many operators have arguments against. There was an industry event at the beginning of the week dedicated to Responsible Gambling and the discussion was rather interesting.

Pretty much all executives and other industry representatives agreed that an online stake limit is not the solution. Namely, if players face restrictions and aren’t able to place wagers as high as they would like, they would simply shift to unlicensed off-shore sites and place their wagers there. And that would be a much worse scenario, seen that these sites are neither regulated, nor do players get any protection.

Affordability should be the primary focus, argued the CEO of the Remote Gambling Association. He also added that the industry itself is testing various procedures and mechanisms in the attempt to identify the customers’ financial position and whether they are wagering within their means. It would be much better, in the view of operators’ representatives to approach each case individually and decide on a person-by-person case.

FOBTs and online gaming differ significantly

Many operators’ representatives expressed their views at the event. The current Head of Safe Gambling at one of UK’s leading operators – Sky Bet, said that there are more complex and better methods of protection, as opposed to a blunt tool like a stake limit.

Customer protection is a key issue for everyone, both industry representatives, as well as the UKGC and other stakeholders, but the operators’ perspective in terms of revenue and profits should also be taken into consideration.

Namely, retail operators suffered significant revenue losses after the FOBTs wagering limit was instantiated, with Ladbrokes Coral reporting an 18% drop in retail revenue. Operators were forced to close many betting shops as a result of the profit decrease.  Namely, GVC will likely be forced to close down 900 betting shops. Seen that an online casino limit will have a detrimental effect on revenue and profits, it is also likely to result in revenue loss for many companies.

FOBTs limit was a needed step, as players don’t have to provide any proof of affordability and the operators can’t have a look into their betting history before letting them place a wager, whereas online all these tools are available and can be implemented.

This is why the matter should be carefully considered and the decision shouldn’t be rushed, claim industry representatives. In short, the answer would be – pretty much no one.