Over-Regulating Gambling Markets

Over-regulating gambling

I’m not gonna lie: as a writer I hate working with regulated gambling markets. Or, that is, the markets that are, in my opinion, over-regulated. Not being able to use the words I like to use and having to be super careful about exactly how I word my articles is annoying – to say the least. However, that doesn’t mean I’m against regulating the casino industry, quite the contrary: I think it’s a good thing – if it’s done right. The issue I have is when some markets regulate absolutely everything, both for casinos and affiliates. For my part, I live with the regulations there are, I’m not the one at risk here. I do, however, find it quite horrible when players are the ones losing out on protection when a market over-regulates, and it’s making me feel that the wave of regulations is turning into a tsunami that threatens to destroy everything in its path. 

Back in 2016, I left my job at LeoVegas Casino and then started writing for the casino industry. Since then I have reviewed hundreds of casinos, most of them several times for different affiliate sites. If this has taught me anything, it is that the iGaming industry needs regulations, since players need to be protected. There are so many bad casinos out there that it’s almost ridiculous. Seriously, how some of them ever got a license is beyond me, even if we’re “only” talking about a license from Curacao …

I hate seeing certain markets over-regulating to the degree where players actually choose to play at the not-so-good casinos instead of at the good ones. 

However, there are lots of really good casinos out there as well, but I’m not going to mention any specifics as this article isn’t about promoting casinos. The point is that there are plenty of casinos that should be trusted, that have the players’ best interests at heart (at least in some regards), and that are obeying all rules set forth by even the most stringent of gambling authorities. These are the casinos players should really be playing at, so they can stay as far away from the cowboys in the industry as humanly possible. This is why I hate seeing certain markets over-regulating to the degree where players actually choose to play at the not-so-good casinos instead of at the good ones. 

A good example of this is Sweden. As everyone in the casino industry knows, Sweden is the home of many of the biggest casino operators, and for most it’s also a big market where they have plenty of players. Naturally, when Sweden regulated a couple of years ago the casinos were lining up to get their hands on a license as quickly as possible, and all was good in the Swedish gambling world; for a while … What I can’t help but wonder is if they would all have opted for a license back then if they knew how the regulations would turn out. I’m not so sure. Deposit limits, no bonuses except for a pitiful welcome bonus of 100 SEK, strict marketing rules and all the rest of it. It’s no wonder that a lot of casinos have actually pulled out of the Swedish market. What’s even worse, players are leaving the regulated market as well, which actually just means that the casinos that choose to keep their Swedish license are losing players. I just can’t wrap my head around what goes on in the heads of those working at Spelinspektionen (Swedish Gambling Authority) when they decide on all of these rules. They are supposed to protect players, but it seems they are just interested in protecting the Swedish players who play at regulated casinos, and in that process they are throwing the rest of the players who opt for unlicensed casinos to the wolves. There is a reason why “casino utan svensk licens” (casino without Swedish license) is a search term that has become very popular. Players are not happy with the gambling regulations in Sweden, so they are looking for alternatives. That’s obvious.

Now I’m rambling, as the Swedish regulation, specifically, was not supposed to be the topic I wanted to address. What I really wanted to talk about is how some gambling authorities in countries across the world are regulating and “protecting players” to the degree that players don’t want to use casinos licensed by them. It should be possible to find some kind of middle ground, right? Something that makes players want to play at licensed casinos, or at least where they don’t object to playing there, and where casinos can still compete, make a profit and in that way offer even better services to players. Happy casinos have no need to scam players as they are in it for the long haul, so the happier they are while also being regulated by a trusted gambling authority the better it is for everyone involved. I just can’t see why this is so hard to achieve. 

A tag line saying “Play Responsibly, Gambling Can be Addictive” is not going to change anyone’s mind.

Services like GamStop, where players can opt out of all licensed casinos, are a good thing. All regulated markets should have that, and many of them do. There are versions of this in plenty of countries. Rules for what casinos can and can’t do when they identify a problem gambler, and how they go about actually identifying them, is also a good thing. These are the kind of regulations that are needed, as this will benefit all players. Rules stipulating that bonus terms have to be stated whenever promoting a bonus – also a good thing. Encouraging people to play responsibly is in theory a good thing, but let’s face it: players either play responsibly or they don’t. A tag line saying “Play Responsibly, Gambling Can be Addictive” is not going to change anyone’s mind. However, this is not difficult to do for either casinos or affiliates, so whatever. 

The issues I have are with things that should be more individual, for example deposit limits. For some players depositing €1,000 in a month will mean they can’t pay their rent, while for other players €1,000 monthly won’t make a dent in their bank account. I get why some regulated markets think they need a deposit limit. Even though a source of funds verification has always been something casinos should do as part of their due diligence anyway, they aren’t actually that good at doing it. At most casinos, even the good ones, a player would have to deposit a huge amount of money before they would be asked to verify their source of funds. Granted, this has become much more strict in recent years, but still, casinos could and probably should do better. So I get that gambling authorities want to have a sort of deposit limit, but I just don’t think it has any value unless it’s on a more individual basis. It should be a percentage of yearly income or something like that, not one limit that will be too high for some and way too low for others. Besides, switching to another casino will solve the issue, so I don’t really think this is stopping anyone that really wants to gamble. The one-size-fits-all approach is just not working as intended.

A lot of regulations to protect players are counterproductive, from where I stand.

I’m not going to tell any gambling authorities what their regulations should look like, and it’s not like they would consult me before coming up with new regulations anyway, which they shouldn’t either. I’m not an expert on this topic, I’m just on the outside looking in, and I see things are not working as intended. A lot of regulations to protect players are counterproductive, from where I stand. I just find it frustrating when they do things that don’t make any sense.

As a writer for the iGaming industry, mainly for affiliate sites, I check where search traffic comes from, and what people search for. Seeing more and more searches for casinos without a license and casinos without whatever version of GamStop a country has, etc., is not a good thing if it’s for a market that is in fact regulated. Those kinds of searches just tell me that the regulations are not working as intended. People also search for casinos in countries where online gambling, or gambling in general, is prohibited, which leads me to think that outlawing it is not an answer either. If people want to gamble, which many do, then they will find a way. As long as there is a market for unlicensed casinos then players will play there, if that’s their only option. They shouldn’t, but they do. And I’m not only talking about casinos that don’t have a license for a specific regulated market, as there are more than enough casinos operating without any license whatsoever. Players who are hindered from playing at the safe, trusted and licensed casinos in a country will be drawn towards the unlicensed ones, and that’s where it’s getting really bad. Casinos like these don’t adhere to any rules, they are not secure in any way other than how they themselves choose to be, and there is no dispute resolution at all for players who encounter issues. Basically the casinos can take all the players’ money and run whenever they feel like it. These are the types of casinos players will end up playing at when some countries over-regulate. They have typically been popular among players in the US living in states that prohibit online gambling, and now they are also getting more and more players from regulated European countries. 

Something is broken, and it should be fixed – asap! That’s just my two cents on the topic…


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