Nobody could have predicted how the rise of the internet and smartphones would change the UK gambling sector, but there’s no doubting how profoundly the industry has changed.
In fact, change in the world of online gambling is so rapid that it can be hard to keep up. In that kind of environment, it’s almost always beneficial to take a step back to understand the bigger picture.
So let’s do just that. As 2018 reaches its end, what trends are currently shaping the way the UK gambles?
1. The Gambling Commission are getting serious about consumer protection
Online gambling has been growing steadily for years now, but the UK’s regulatory bodies have taken a long time to wake up to the expansion of the sector. At times, this has meant that gamblers have been left without effective protections against low-quality companies, causing financial losses and unnecessary stress.
2018 has seen the Gambling Commission grow up, with the introduction of important new consumer standards for online casinos. This should make it easier for gamblers to seek redress via Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADRs). And if consumers are more empowered, this should cause casinos to be more careful about the way they deal with members.
2. UK online casinos are starting to take bonuses seriously
In February 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority reported its findings regarding online casino promotions – specifically the “free bets” offered to new sign-ups. Motivated by horror stories about casinos locking up members’ winnings until the bonuses essentially evaporated, the CMA forced big names like William Hill and PT entertainment to clean up their act.
This has cascaded through the online casino sector, and companies are now being much more careful about the promotions they offer. Now, it’s routine for customers to be able to withdraw winnings without needing to pass a spins threshold, and the wording of promotions is becoming much clearer.
That’s good news for reputable online casino operators such as Dreamz, Unibet, Casumo, among a few others, who focus on transparency towards their customers. Casino players want fair terms and transparency, why not provide it? Many changes within the online casino business in 2018 have been great for the customer, it’s just a bit strange that not more casino brands have focused on transparency towards their customer earlier.
It will for sure be interesting to see what new updates and regulations we’ll see during 2019.
3. Mobile devices have now hit the online gaming jackpot
In the past, online gambling was spread between laptops, desktops and smartphones, but 2018 has seen mobile gambling becoming ever more dominant. For the first time, official gambling statistics reported that over half of online gamblers used a mobile phone or tablet – marking a historic victory for smartphone-optimised operators.
This trend is almost certain to continue into 2019 and beyond, and casinos that have prepared for the dominance of smartphones will be well placed to succeed. There may also be a segmentation of the market into casinos aimed at high-end smartphone users, whose devices can accommodate more sophisticated live casino apps, and lower-end devices which need simpler casino apps. But one thing’s for sure: smartphone casinos are here to stay.
So, 2018 has seen the UK market mature, with consumers becoming more powerful, governments flexing their muscles, and smartphone gambling truly taking off. As for 2019? These trends won’t go away, but expect legislative developments and new technology to make an impact. And expect change to be as confusing, and exciting as ever.