How Online Gaming Regulation Affects Gambling Addiction

Online gambling is on the cusp of exploding in the US. While Americans have always had the option to partake in this pastime at offshore sites, following a 2011 DOJ interpretation of the Federal Wire Act, US states became free to pass their online casino laws. New Jersey was the first US territory to do so, and so far, only four other states have followed suit. That said, Michigan, the last US territory to legalize this activity, raked in $1.1 billion in gaming revenues in 2021, the market’s debut year. New Jersey also pulled in $1.3 billion in gaming money in 2021, setting a new Garden State record.

Thus, given the profitability of online gaming, it is clear that it will not be long until many states that allow internet sports betting in the US will also decide to make the legal gaming shift. With that comes the concern of rising gambling addiction rates, as there is an unmistakable correlation between the widespread availability of this hobby and people forming a compulsion towards it. In the subheadings below, an analysis follows, which explores how different markets regulate online gambling around the globe and if their practices help curb the rise of problem gambling within their borders. What can the US take away from their experiences, and what anti-gambling addiction approach is best suitable for North American gamblers.

Countries That Rigorously Regulate Gaming

In Europe, the two most-developed gaming regions are Sweden and the UK. Both have robust gambling sectors, land-based and digital, that generate billions in revenues. Hence, given that a sizeable portion of their populations frequently partakes in betting fun, they have decided to tightly regulate how much and how often their citizens can wager over the internet. Their respective licensing overseeing bodies are the Swedish Gambling Authority (founded in 2002) and the UK Gambling Commission (founded in 2007). Both of these organizations implement max bet limitations and mandate specific gameplay restrictions. For example, in Britain, players have to wait two-and-half seconds between slot spins before playing again. According to the latest news, the UKGC may soon also be introducing a source of funds checks to ensure that players are gambling with their money and are not borrowing or stealing to feed their gaming habit.

The SGA and the UKGC both have mandatory self-exclusion databases, which everyone who feels that they are playing more than they should join. Once they do, they activate a self-imposed ban that will stop them from gambling at any other online casino in their country until its deadline expires. The Swedish database bears the name Spelpaus, while the UK one is GamStop. According to, in Britain non GamStop casinos are gambling sites that do not get licensed and monitored by the UKGC. They have a base of operations in a foreign land but accept UK players.

Territories with Medium-Level Gaming Regulation

As discussed, essentially anyone from anywhere can gamble over the internet if they manage to find a site that accepts them as a player/bettor. In reality, that should not be too difficult, regardless of a user’s location. The fear of prosecution in these scenarios is minimal, as authorities do not bother with online gambling, even if it is not a legalized form of entertainment. So, players from all over Europe have indulged in it, despite their country’s laws.

In 2021, the Netherlands and Germany decided to change this by bringing forward new laws that regulate internet gaming, which also created nationwide regulators. In Germany, a Joint Gambling Authority now operates on the state of Saxony-Anhalt, while the Dutch regulator is de Kansspelautoriteit (KSA). These two entities got birthed in the second half of 2021, and they debuted along with their tied-in self-exclusion schemes, OASIS and CRUKS. Germany and the Netherlands are looking to emulate the UKGC approach towards curtailing the proliferation of gambling addiction. They are not there yet, but per reports, they are looking to reproduce many anti-problem-gambling policies and measures currently active in the UK.

Markets That Get Flexibly Regulated

During the first few years of this sector’s existence, the only regulators were operating from small countries, such as a few in the Caribbean. Some of these have maintained their status to this day. Curacao eGaming is one of Curacao’s government’s four master license holders, active since 1996, authorized to issue sub-licenses to companies it approves to offer gaming services worldwide. In Europe, Malta is the internet’s gaming haven. Its regulatory body, the Malta Gaming Authority (founded in 2001), licensed hundreds of gambling sites that accept players from all corners of the globe. Platforms that have the seal of approval from these two organizations, or ones like Antillephone, Panama’s Gaming Control Board, the Costa Rican government, and others, are casinos not on GamStop.

The thing with these casinos not using GamStop is that they still mandate that their licensees follow similar security protocols and incorporate the same encryption technology as sites licensed by the UKGC or SGA. The difference is that they do not limit gameplay in any way. Moreover, they also have no bonus and game restrictions. In that lies the appeal of every non GamStop casino for gaming mavens from all over. It is worth noting that casinos not using GameStop also promote responsible betting by allowing everyone to set deposit/loss limits and activate a site-specific self-exclusion.

The Unmonitored Gaming Space

Even in this day and age, there are still gambling sites with no regulatory approval whatsoever. They usually hide behind fine print designed to trick casual players, claiming they adhere to the highest security standards. They may do so. However, the dangers with using these interactive hubs are that players have no recourse in the case of a dispute, and the operator in question has no obligation to follow industry standards. So, the promotions on these sites can feature obscene stipulations, and the same can go for withdrawal requests.

The crypto gambling sphere, particularly sites that offer provably fair games, more often than not, boast no gaming license. Yet, the difference between them and unregulated fiat casinos is that word travels fast in the crypto community, and many of these platforms rely on their reputations to survive in this competitive arena.

What Regulation Level Is Best For Business & Player Protection?

In short, universal self-exclusion should always be an option because site-specific exclusion is more or less useless. It does very little to stop players from overindulging in betting entertainment. Yet, it is the opinion of most experts that heavy gameplay restrictions are not necessary. Maybe every casino not on GamStop allows a bit too much game freedom, but spin timers only serve to irritate most online gamblers. Hence, while every regulation system has its pros and cons, the perfect combo would be as few gameplay restrictions as possible while allowing for responsible gambling tools that players cannot deactivate at a whim.

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