Regulations are often a big point of contention in any industry. Operators often see them as excessively restrictive, while many in the public see them as necessary to protect consumers from predatory practices. In the gambling industry, with the advent of online gambling, customers have various options for getting around regulations by gambling with offshore companies.
But is this really a prevalent issue? Do the regulations of the UKGC drive people to bet offshore?
Let’s find out.
Offshore gambling in the UK
There are a few companies based offshore that accept UK customers, sites like Findbettingsites only list UKGC-regulated sites which as you’d expect includes the big names like Coral and Ladbrokes, but there are a few shady comparison sites entering the market. This is somewhat of a legal grey area, since they are not based in the UK, and thus are not bound by the relevant regulations. However, if they are accepting UK customers who are betting from the UK, then this is a problem.
One recent study has indicated a trend of UK gamblers taking their betting offshore. Comparatively, many do see the UKGC as one of the strictest in the world, monitoring things very closely. But the impact, by and large, is limited for the player. They may not be able to access certain payment methods and a handful of gaming options, but this is about it.
One way that customers bet offshore is by using a VPN to access offshore betting sites. Similar regulations in the US have required all betting sites to track their customer’s IP addresses to curtail this kind of problem, though. Perhaps something similar could be introduced in the UK. In any case, VPNs are an example of something that was once complicated now becoming easier and easier. As more methods for circumnavigating domestic regulations become accessible, the trend could go further.
But there is, as things stand, only a minor trend indicating any number of bettors are taking their gambling offshore. UK gambling may be heavily regulated, but most of these regulations mean little to the players.
That said, which of the UK’s gambling regulations are sending people abroad?
Which regulations are sending people abroad?
It’s worth pointing out that, in the first place, the UK market is one of the most robust and diverse betting markets in the world. The average bettor will be able to find virtually anything they need in some niche or another.
That said, one of the main regulations that have come in recent years revolves around stake limits on fixed odds games. There are limits as low as £2 on certain games. For many, this is a nuisance. The regulation has clear motivation: the reduction of gambling debts and problem gambling from these high-stakes machines.
Gamstop is another one of the big points of contention. This is a voluntary self-exclusion scheme that betting operators are mandated to join. Players can use it to restrict their own betting for as little as 6 months or as long as 5 years.
Some will make the decision to get involved in this program only to decide they wish to continue betting after all. The only real way around it, though, is to take your betting offshore. Any regulated gambling company in the UK is required to abide by Gamstop, and so if Gamstop has put a stop on your ability to bet in the UK, then going offshore is your only choice.
Ultimately, then, there’s very little data to provide a certain answer to the question. No doubt, there are many bettors who have found an advantage in taking their betting offshore. As things stand, though, there’s very little reason to think this is a widespread problem. UKGC regulations primarily affect operators and do not have a great deal of direct impact on players.