Are UK Online Gambling Sites Still Pushing for Excellence?



For centuries, gambling has been one of the favourite recreational activities in the United Kingdom, and in 2020 over 45% of Brits engaged in some form of gambling, accounting for almost 20 million people. From sports betting like horse racing and football, to the National Lottery, Brits spent more than £130 million, amounting to a £14.22 gross gambling yield last year.

As the world dove into a global crisis never seen before with the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing measures were enforced, and people had to stay home to comply with these new health restrictions, leading to several industries taking big financial hits. However, with people spending more time online last year, the gambling industry was one of the few that were able to thrive amid the outbreak, despite betting shops and other gambling facilities being forced to shut down operations all across the country.

Some of the best online gambling sites were able to attract new and returning customers, with people spending more time at home and lacking different entertainment alternatives. According to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, in February, there were more than 10 million active accounts on gambling websites in the country. In the same period, online sports betting generated almost £235 million in gross gabling yield, and online slots recorded a £177 million GGY.

With this rapid growth in recent years, many companies have been pushing for technology advancements and innovations in the industry, to provide punters with the most authentic gambling experiences online. Many new games are released every month with several improvements and better graphics. Live dealer games are streamed to players all over the country. Cryptocurrencies are now accepted as means for deposits. And responsible gambling programs are being created to protect vulnerable players.


Games and Innovations



Online slots are some of the most popular gambling activities online. The selection of these games is almost endless, and every month many more are released. Companies like Betsoft Gaming and NETent are currently the biggest names in the industry, and publish several licensed themed slots, from popular TV series, movies and video-games. But there are other companies that also provide great new games on a regular basis, such as Playtech and Microgaming, both in the market for more than two decades.

In recent years, online casinos also began offering live dealer games, that are streamed to players from sophisticated casino rooms or luxurious broadcast studios. Unlike most casino games that are based on random number generators, live dealer games are controlled by professional croupiers who operate the game in real-time, making it possible for bettors to witness the whole gaming process.


Payment and Deposits



A major issue for most online punters, safety is one of the aspects that went through significant improvements recently. Gambling websites must employ a number of security protocols to ensure safe transactions, from deposits to withdrawals. Thanks to the development of SSL encryption and RSA data protection, these transactions are now almost impossible to be intercepted by malicious users; players’ funds are completely safe and must be segregated from the website operational funds.

Since the emergence of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, many iGaming operators now accept these currencies. As they are decentralized and aren’t controlled by central agencies, their conversion is much quicker than conventional currencies, and they are often charged with fewer fees. Most sites only accept Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency nowadays, but there are some websites that also deal in Litecoin and Ether.


Responsible Gambling



There are many programs and institutions in the United Kingdom that are dedicated to preventing problem gambling and aid vulnerable players, such as GambleAware and the GamStop program.

GambleAware is an independent charity organization that commissions prevention and treatment services in England, Scotland and Wales, in partnership with organisations and agencies, including the National Health Service and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. The institution is also responsible for providing the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

According to a survey published by the organisation, GambleAware recorded an increase in problem gamblers accessing treatment services in 2020. The report indicated that over 60% of respondents had sought treatment, and the usage of treatment services increased from 43% in 2019, to 53% last year. Additionally, there was a 19% increase in bettors seeking mental health advice.

GamStop is a free program that allows problem gamblers to self-exclude from participating in online gambling activities, and is operated by a non-profit organisation called The National Online Self-Excluding Scheme. It is a regulatory requirement for all online gambling companies licensed in the United Kingdom since March 2020, and covers more than 200 websites. In February, the program registered a 21% increase in users in comparison with 2019, reaching more than 200,000 registrations.



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