The virus COVID-19 has now transcended everything else, be it Brexit, a UK trade deal with the USA, the election of a President in the USA, and the continuing problems in the Middle East.
Casting an eye across Eastern Europe, it is clear that different jurisdictions are taking very different approaches to gambling. Some are embracing regulation and expanding into interactive gambling regulation, whilst others continue to maintain outright bans. As ever, one common feature is tax.
In the two days following the statement by Gambling Commission CEO Neil McArthur (12 February 2020) that he would consider slashing the maximum stake for online slots to £2, the shares in GVC Holdings, the largest of the UK’s gambling operators, fell by 11.6%, mirrored by other UK gambling stocks.
“An interim reform measure” was how David Stanton, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, described Ireland’s Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 during a debate in July 2019.
VIPs have become a contentious topic in the e-gaming sector. At the start of 2020, The Guardian claimed to have obtained a copy of a UK Gambling Commission report regarding e-gaming VIP programmes. The newspaper focused on the operators’ apparent reliance on a small number of accounts for their deposits and the high number of problem gamblers in the ‘VIP’ category.
The number of UK betting shops is at its lowest level since they were legalised in 1961 and their number will fall further, given the regulatory and operational difficulties they are facing.