Years of debates across Europe have seemingly come to a close in recent months, as several countries finally reached some conclusions on the future of their betting regulatory frameworks.
Spotlight Sports Group (SSG) anticipates that tighter regulations are on the horizon, however. The group’s latest BetTech Ecosystem report examining global betting and igaming trends took a specific look at UK and European developments.
“In Europe, many countries that have legal sports betting and/or igaming regulations in place have begun to introduce stricter rules and regulations for operators and affiliates in the past year-plus,” the report explained.
“Some of the countries have established markets while others have only recently legalised gaming, however, the common theme is to protect potential bettors from specific types of marketing.”
In the UK, the DCMS department finally released the Gambling Act review White Paper last month, ending a two year process – four years when the Conservative’s 2019 pledge to reform gambling laws is considered.
One of the most notable proposals of the review was the recommended implementation of ‘frictionless’ financial risk checks. These risk checks had been previously outlined by former Gambling Minister Paul Scully as a solution to heavily-debated affordability checks.
The proposals suggest a loss limit of £125 within one month and £500 within a year before checks take place. More detailed checks will take place if there are higher levels of spend, with thresholds of £1,000 within 24 hours and £2,000 within 90 days suggested.
As stands, these are just proposals, and DCMS stated in the White Paper that further consultations will take place this summer.
SSG asserted: “Greater restrictions are coming to the UK gambling market in the near future. Depending on the effects of the gambling white paper, strategies of operators and affiliates may need to be adjusted.”
On finance risk checks, sports betting media group SSG – which owns the Racing Post outlet – anticipates further consumer dissatisfaction with affordability checks.
The report cited a Racing Post survey showing that of 10,000 UK bettors, 17% had already been asked by operators to conduct an affordability check of which 55% refused to do so, whilst 66% of those who had not been subject to one said they would refuse.
Chris Cook, Racing Post Reporter, said “While the white paper says these checks should be “frictionless”, it is clear the precise mechanics required to meet this ambition have yet to be fully set down, raising the prospect that higher-staking bettors will continue to receive demands for sensitive financial documents.”
The UK is of course not the only country to have seen new regulations come into force. In Ireland, regulatory oversight has finally been unified under the newly created Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland (GRAI), although issues such as the aforementioned topic of affordability remain up for debate.
Meanwhile, in Germany, similar unification has been established under the Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder (GGL), although certain regulations of the 2021 Interstate Gambling Treaty continue to face criticism and uncertainties remain.
Stringent measures include a €1,000 monthly deposit limit, bet sizes and turnover-based rather than profit-based taxes have been imposed on casino operators. Advertising restrictions have seen the banning of active athletes, officials and influencers appearing in marketing.
However, SSG acknowledged: “Even with early criticisms, most stakeholders have noted that the GGL is a step in the right direction for the industry.”
Similar marketing restrictions are being rolled out in the Netherlands. A ban is due to come into force on 1 July – initially scheduled for January – which will ban advertising on television and radio and in public spaces.
From 2024, sponsorship of TV programmes and events will end, followed by a ban on sports sponsorship arrangements in 2025 and although online marketing will be allowed to continue it will be subject to further restrictions.
SSG explained that these restrictions ‘are expected as the regulatory body looks to protect vulnerable groups and potential problem gamblers’.
Although marketing across Europe is coming under increasing scrutiny – perhaps with the exception of the UK, where the White Paper had little mention of this except for a sports Code of Conduct – SSG emphasised the efficiency of affiliate partnerships, particularly in the US.
The report elaborated: “Affiliate partnerships are a proven model for growth as they provide sportsbooks with brand visibility to sports betting-interested audiences and a way to display their odds in an environment outside of their own platform.
“In America, sports is deeply embedded in the culture with countless newspapers, blogs and media platforms completely dedicated to sports coverage. This leads to intense competition among affiliate companies and traditional media platforms, similar to that of their sportsbook counterparts.
“These platforms have grown immense audiences that are coveted by sportsbooks and are main drivers of first-time bettors in new markets, as they help publicise special offers and drive bettors directly to the operators.”
Meanwhile, data and content were also highlighted as significant drivers of growth and engagement. SSG pointed to a survey in the UK showing that the average bettor aged between 18-50 will spend 30 minutes researching a bet.
Affiliates can play a key role in the use of such content, SSG continued – although it is important to note that in the US, regulations around revenue share arrangements may limit the scope of some operator-affiliate partnerships.
The main benefit of affiliates is that the companies can inform bettors with ‘unbiased’ information and help build up trust, whilst responsible firms can work to protect consumers from unlicensed operators.
The report concluded: “As regulators impose strict advertising restrictions to protect potential problem gamblers, the best way forward is to provide bettors with unbiased and actionable content to ensure the decisions they are making are as educated as possible.”