It's the story that doesn't go away. The UK's number one gambling watchdog, the UK Gambling Commission (or UKGC) has written a letter stating it intends to launch investigations into 17 online operators to make sure they are abiding by their anti-money laundering and social responsibility policies.
While the UKGC has been known to take direct action from time to time, it does make you wonder whether this is simply a bit of unnecessary posturing.
The UKGC did not elaborate on which online gambling operators that it chose to review their respective licenses. Indeed, they kept us well in the dark on that on, probably to respect privacy and avoid negative press. That being said, if any of those 17 gambling operators have their license revoked because of negligent anti-money laundering or social responsibility policies.
The Commission wrote to them all, outlining precisely what they need to do to address these issues. They claimed in the same letter that, because now a third of the UK's gambling takes place online, there need to be tighter restrictions in place to stop vulnerable players being taken advantage of. Five of these 17, however, are allegedly under greater scrutiny and are much closer to having their licenses revoked by the UKGC, meaning the choices of these casinos weren't random.
As we said before, it is not uncharacteristic of the UKGC to take direct action where they feel the mobile gambling industry is lacking. Many times before have they stepped in, sometimes unprompted, to revoke a casino of its trading license.
“The new strategy sets out our vision for a fairer and safer gambling market,” said Sarah Harrison, CEO. “The action we are taking to examine online casino operators’ compliance with money-laundering and customer-interaction requirements is just one example of how we will be relentless in turning that vision into reality.”
Harrison then went on to add that the UKGC was also implementing a broader review of online gambling, scrutinising the sector and how it has grown to identify where further action can be taken. All this to protect players' best interest. If that means revoking the licenses of many casinos than these original 17, then so be it it seems.
While many will argue that the UKGC is a force to be reckoned with (and it's hard to deny that they've got their claws out here) some may also see this as them being a little too dogmatic. Surely players don't need this much protection? However, we would counter that by saying not all players know what's good for them, especially when it comes to online gambling.
Vulnerable people come in all shapes and sizes, and those who have become addicted to gambling may not make the right choices for their well-being. This is why that, as much as a pain in the bum the UKGC may seem to be sometimes, they are a necessary part of the industry and we'd sorely miss them if they disappeared.