The UK Gambling Commission, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, licenses, and regulates how gambling companies in Great Britain conduct themselves in dealing with the public. The Commission basically fines companies that don’t follow the rules of the Commission. Those companies include lotteries, gaming software, bingo operators, betting operators, and arcades. The Commission is funded by gambling operators paying for their licenses and paying fines when applicable.
Is the UK Gambling Commission Doing Their Job?
So, the interesting thing about this, is that Gambling companies that market their business to UK residents are subject to the rulings of the Commission. The UK Gambling Commission has also made it clear that affiliates, and how those affiliates market to the UK, are the responsibility of those companies.
A casino affiliate is a person or company that makes money from referring a player to a casino. The deals between the affiliate and the casino companies can vary, and that is mostly dependent on how well the affiliate performs in bringing in depositing players. As with any business, especially online, there are those that deal fairly, and then those that cheat the system.
As an affiliate to some of the best online casinos on the market, both globally and offering to the UK, I pretty much have seen it all. But, when looking through the lens of the Commission’s rules and how operators and affiliates should conduct themselves in dealing with the UK, there are some dark marks. Let’s look at the somewhat vague guidance from the Commission regarding “Social Responsibility”.
The licensing objectives given by the Commission regarding gambling regulation are:
- Crime should not be a part of gambling.
- That gambling should be conducted in an open and fair way.
- Vulnerable people such as problem gamblers and children should be protected from exploitation and gambling harm.
A lot of this guidance is now evident from casinos as of late. There are now timers, clocks, and messages that let you know how much you have played and lost in a given amount of time. There are also ways in which players can opt-out of marketing, self-exclude, and now, fairly withdraw their account funds without a casino putting up some arbitrary rules to prevent withdrawing. Additionally, some of the first steps that were taken to prevent children from gambling were to essentially ban games that had characters and art that appealed to children. Even with all this good, it’s important to remember that the UK Gambling Commission is still a business and is dependent on gambling existing. That can most definitely be seen in this outtake from their site, where they suggest that it’s important for gambling companies to keep their clients from self-excluding:
“Proactively interacting early enough and in the right way can help someone keep control of their gambling and you will retain them as a customer, instead of them choosing to opt for a self-exclusion or closing their account entirely. In the long term, this approach is more sustainable for your business.” UK Gambling Commission
Fair, true, and nothing wrong with them suggesting it. It just makes one wonder if this particular mindset is what allows some affiliates to get away with some of the sketchiest blackhat behavior to make millions unchecked.
One of the gambling industry groups that the UK Gambling Commission works with is the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling. Here are their guidelines for reference. Don’t get me started on “responsible gambling.” This has been a debated phrase for a while. No, gambling is not responsible. Are there safer ways to minimize your losses? Maybe, but not gambling is what is responsible.
So, in terms of how affiliates should conduct themselves, a topic that most casinos have taken very seriously; here is the reference material for the advertising and marketing rules and regulations from the Commission.
The ASA CAP Code regarding Misleading Advertising is where most affiliates immediately fail.
3.1 of the code states that communications for marketing must not mislead or possibly mislead.
3.2 of the code states that exaggerations are not permitted.
3.3 of the code states that marketing materials must not mislead by omission.
Guys, there are so many regulations. And these are just the first three and affiliates can’t even follow these rules. Let’s first consider casino affiliate websites as extensions of the marketing campaigns for the casinos that are listed on said website. That’s how the casino thinks of affiliate websites, and that’s how the commission also considers those sites.
Start off with any casino affiliate site that has a casino review. These reviews, written by top authors, so highly researched, and that is there for the good of the gambling community are 98% complete dogshit. They are advertising pages. If they don’t have #AD somewhere on those reviews, then it’s a damn lie. It’s also a lie that is very open in the casino industry and known to the Commission. Without those reviews, many of the casinos out there would lose a significant source of new player generation.
This is all to say, that most casino review websites are already not in compliance with 3.1-3.3 as listed above. It might also be considered that gambling content on Youtube, and Twitch that are available to the UK, are in violation of this code. The thing is… game producers are not subject to these rules and what really makes “https://games.netent.com/” a complete slap in the face to all affiliates.
Let’s also consider 3.16 of the ASA CAP codes, which states that marketing communications should not promote pyramid schemes. Here are a few things that the industry should consider. The affiliate system for almost all casinos includes sub-affiliates. This is where the main affiliate receives funds from an affiliate that was brought in by the initial affiliate. This is to say that the affiliate system is in fact a pyramid scheme and that all casinos using this method are in violation of this code. Specifically, though if they advertise their affiliate program on their websites – which are an extension of their marketing campaigns. Any bonus that is “refer a friend” and is advertised as such is also a pyramid scheme.
This just scratches the surface of how the entire UK facing gambling industry is in violation of the rules set forth for safer gambling for the consumer. In my next segment, I will address how Google is a facilitator in damaging behavior to the UK.