Gambling has grown to become a social and leisure activity across all parts of the UK, including Wales. This small country is bordered by the British Channel, the Irish Sea, and England, and one of the things its residents are predominantly known for is their passion for gambling.
One of the greatest contributors to the ever-increasing popularity of the different forms of gambling remains that the regulations that apply to such forms of entertainment are clear-cut but, at the same time are rather rigid. In fact, the legal landscape in Wales is certainly not like in some other parts of the world where the legality of gambling is somewhat vague, or there is a huge gap between the regulations that are in place and how things actually stand.
Yet, the sharply defined rules are not the only factor that has played a role in the buildout of the gambling industry. The fertile ground has also given rise to the development of the gambling market in Wales, and figures come to prove that.
According to the findings of a research that was carried out back in 2015, the overall participation of people from the country in gambling-related activities exceeded 60%. Furthermore, the share of men and women who take part in such activities is almost identical since statistics indicate that 59% of women and 63% of men have engaged in gambling, while slightly more than 20% of the people placed their stakes over the Internet.
Yet, many changes have been brought about throughout the years that helped the market shape up. In this article, we will focus our attention on how the gambling-related legislation has transformed and the factors that fueled the rapid development of the industry.
Major Shifts in the Gambling-related Legislation
Playing the casino games that are up to their alley or wagering on sports from the comfort of their surroundings is certainly not a pipe dream for Welsh people as it is the case with some other countries around the globe.
Since the regulations and laws adopted in the UK apply to Wales and Scotland as well, this means that all forms of gambling are legal, and all restrictions in terms of engaging in sports betting or playing casino games are stripped down, no matter when it comes to betting over the Internet or offline. Furthermore, this also implies that land-based casinos, together with their virtual cousins are closely controlled by the UK Gambling Commission.
Even though the grip of the state on gambling-related activities is not as tight as in other parts of the globe, the industry is stringently regulated, which undoubtedly works to the advantage of avid casino fans, including those who live in Wales.
The gambling market in the UK, and Wales, in particular, is tremendously lucrative, which comes to explain why so many casino operators struggle to penetrate it. Aside from the licensed online casinos that are based in the UK, there is a significant surge in the volume of the offshore casinos that have set their sights on delivering their services to Welsh people. To attain this, however, they are required to apply for a license from the Gambling Commission of the UK.
As far as some of the strictest and the most exacting regulatory bodies go, the Gambling Commission of the UK is invariably at the top of the list. In fact, it took the place of the Gaming Board of the United Kingdom, which has been operating since the introduction of the Gaming Act 1968. Part 2 of the Gambling Act 2005 is dedicated to the establishment of the Gambling Commission or more specifically, the transfer from the Gaming Board to the Gambling Commission.
Under the provisions of the Gambling Act, “the functions, rights, and liabilities of the Gaming Board for Great Britain shall on commencement become functions, rights, and liabilities of the Gambling Commission.”
Roughly speaking, the duties of the regulatory bodies coincide to a certain degree, but the most obvious difference remains that the Gaming Board was tasked exclusively with the observance of the operations of casinos, lotteries, bingo clubs, and gaming machines. Yet, this is not the case with the Gambling Commission because there is no form of gambling that is left outside its scope, but for spread betting. The regulation of this form of gambling is among the duties of the Financial Conduct Authority.
The responsibilities of the Gambling Commission are quite extensive as it grants licenses, determines the requirements gambling operators need to abide by to earn a seal of approval, oversees the performance of operators that are existing holders of a license, and goes into activities that are considered unlawful according to the Gaming Act 2005.
While on the subject, one more difference between the duties of the Gaming Board and the Gambling Commission is that the former was not allowed to prosecute offenses or conduct investigations.
It is important to note that the Gambling Commission will provide guidance to local authorities as well. When Wales is concerned, these local authorities include the county council and the county borough council.
Obtaining a License from the Gambling Commission
1Apply For a Seal of Approval
Gambling operators that want to cater to the gambling market in Wales will first be required to apply for a seal of approval from the Gambling Commission of the UK.
2Three Types of Licenses
The Gambling Act 2005 distinguishes between three types of licenses, more specifically, operating, personal, and premises. It goes without saying that each of these license types has its peculiarities and the rules for obtaining them are not the same.
Part 5 of the Gambling Act 2005 applies to operating licenses, and under the provisions there, such seals of approval can be issued “to operate a casino”, “to provide facilities for playing bingo”, “to provide facilities for betting other than pool betting”, “to promote a lottery”, and so on. Something essential that should be noted about operating licenses is that depending on their form, they can be either remote or combined.
Gambling-related Legislation and How it Affects Players and Operators
The legality of the different forms of gambling was clearly determined with the enactment of the Gambling Act 2005, and now, the efforts of policymakers are directed towards tightening the hold of the state over illegal forms of gambling and introducing more stringent standards when players’ safety is concerned.
What is important to note, however, is that the gambling-related rules and regulations that are currently in place do not have the same impact on players and gambling operators.
When gambling enthusiasts go, they might be more than happy to find out that winnings are non-taxable, which is not the case in other parts of the world where gambling aficionados will need to give up on some portion of their winnings in favor of the state.
Another thing that should be noted is that aside from the age restriction, gambling enthusiasts do not need to comply with any other restraints when their participation in gambling-related activities are concerned.
Still, this does not apply to gambling operators, however, because there are many things they need to be on the alert for. First of all, the profits they have managed to generate are subject to a 15% tax. Of course, the fact that gambling operators need to earn a license from the Gambling Commission of the UK and adhere to the respective codes of practices should also be mentioned.
While providing their services to citizens of Wales, gambling operators need to act in accordance with the standards of the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising as well.
In spite of the fact that the gambling-related legislation of the UK and Wales, in particular, gives gambling enthusiasts lots of freedom, breaking the rules is certainly ill-advised, especially when one considers the penalties that will be imposed when an infringement of the laws and the regulations is detected.
The heftiest penalties will be meted out when offenses committed towards or by underaged individuals are concerned.
Measures for Protection of Vulnerable Individuals
There is not a lack of awareness of vulnerable individuals as the policies of the country to stave off underage gambling are rather stringent, and their effectiveness is closely monitored.
The Gambling Act 2005 is divided into a total of 18 parts, the first one of which provides descriptions of key concepts, the second one revolves around the creation of the Gambling Commission and its duties, and the third one is focused on the types of offenses.
In Part 4, on the other hand, a heavy focus is put on the protection of vulnerable individuals such as young people and children. The Gambling Act distinguishes between a child, which “means an individual who is less than 16 years old”, and a young person, which means “an individual who is not a child but who is less than 18 years old”.
A person commits an offense when inviting a young person or child to engage in any kind of gambling-related activities or inviting them to visit a gambling premise. Under the provisions of the Gambling Act 2005, children and young people, on the other hand, are not permitted to visit gambling premises or provide facilities for gambling-related activities.
Residents of Wales and the rest of the UK territories are permitted to engage in gambling activities, on condition that they are at least 18 years old. Still, citizens of the state need to be aware that betting on lotteries is possible if they are 18 years old and above, but they can legally buy lottery tickets even if they are 16 years old.
Something essential gambling enthusiasts need to be aware of before they engage in gambling over the Internet is that they will only be permitted to start betting, provided that they have verified their identity. Recruits of online casinos will need to upload the needed documents in order to confirm their identity no later than 72 hours after they have completed the registration form.
As soon as players’ identity is established, they will be allowed to add funds to their accounts and place real-money wagers. When the identity of players is confirmed, they will also gain access to the free-to-play versions of the games from the library of the preferred casino, if such is available, which will not be attainable prior to the verification. Bear in mind that if you leave the verification procedure undone, your gaming account will not be activated.
Players’ identity should be confirmed so that the casino operator can make sure that underaged and self-excluded individuals will not attempt to place real-money wagers.
Payments via Credit Cards Are No Longer Permitted
Announced in January 2020, the ban on the usage of credit cards for gambling-related transactions took into effect on the 14th of April. This move of the Gambling Commission was welcomed by many people because of the growing concerns caused by the researches on problem gamblers.
The researches point out that a significant portion of the gamblers who prefer to bet over the Internet are inclined towards managing their funds through their credit cards. The causes for concern are that a large share of these people falls into the category of problem gamblers.
No form of gambling is left outside the scope of the ban as it applies to betting over the Internet and offline. The main purpose of this rule is to reduce the risks that arise when placing wagers with money you actually do not have, which can lead to significant financial harm.
So, this was an action that should be taken so as to provide vulnerable individuals with better protection.