Online gambling regulations are fickle and constantly changing as governments seek to keep up with technology and regulate online betting houses and their affiliates more judiciously. This has far reaching consequences for those tied to the online gambling industry in general – for those that earn any money in the space. It is also a sign of how the landscape might look in the US if online gambling is opened up any time soon. Let’s take a look at some pertinent changes in Europe and what effects they’re having.
Crackdowns on affiliate marketing in the UK
One such change in the online gambling sector is the UK cracking down on affiliate marketing, putting the onus on betting companies instead of their affiliates to comply with advertising regulations – or face steep fines. Previously, there was no real clarity on who would take responsibility for advertising, with both affiliates, like NoDepositRewards, and betting houses saying it was the other’s responsibility to be in charge of compliance.
However, due to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office taking a harder stance on the issue, cracking down on non-compliance, it is making things difficult for both affiliates, large and small, and gambling houses.
Affiliates, who generally have more than one betting house under their affiliate marketing programs, are receiving conflicting and different advice from each house. This is particularly stressful and difficult if the affiliate is just a one-man operation. Larger affiliate houses may be more prepared to be able to work within multiple different guidelines due to a larger amount of resources behind them.
Betting houses have all had different approaches to the issue. For instance, Sky Betting & Gaming chose to end their affiliate program altogether to ensure they stay on the right side of the law. Betway have chosen to bring their program in-house, managed by Betway, to ensure that their affiliates are working within the appropriate guidelines. Still others are culling affiliates and giving one-strike policies.
Sweden makes steps to regulate their online gambling industry
Sweden is the latest country to be introducing regulation by the provision of licenses to online gambling houses. From January 2019, they will be regulating the online gambling industry and clamping down on anyone operating within the jurisdiction without a license.
These new licenses come with a range of rules and regulations which betting operations must follow to operate legally within Sweden. At present, there is only a state-backed betting house, Svenska Spel, who was awarded a previous gambling license, however Sweden have decided to open the online gambling market up to competition.
This is good news for online gambling houses looking to enter into new, safe, regulated markets, and is a step forward globally for online gambling. It may also influence other Scandinavian and European countries to follow suit.
Strengthen international payment processing in Norway
Over in Norway, the only licensed online gambling operator is Norsk Tipping, a state-owned entity. There are currently laws in place to help curb international players from serving Norwegian customers, in particular, not allowing banks to process payments through international betting payment systems by banning account numbers. However, this hasn’t been a particularly effective measure, as betting houses simply change account numbers. The government is seeking to be able to block accounts based on name now, too. How effective this blocking will manage to be really relies in the tech solutions at the bank’s end.
There are also DNS blocking measures in place to warn Norwegians that the sites punters are visiting are out of jurisdiction, however the sites have not as yet been blocked altogether.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is set to come into effect
The GDPR is set to come into effect shortly, which although it shouldn’t be a worry for most gambling houses – as hopefully they have already implemented these measures under the gambling laws of whichever place they’re licensed in, may prove to be a little complex for affiliates. The aim of the regulations is to “protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world”.
This means any and all companies storing an individual’s data must ensure data is private, can be erased, can be retrieved by the individual, and if data is breached to let individuals know within 72 hours of the breach being discovered, among other directives. Penalties of not following the regulations include fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or 20million Euros, whichever is the higher amount.
Both online gambling houses and affiliates who process private information will need to ensure that they have measures in place to remain compliant with these new regulations. This may be no mean feat, considering the security tech knowledge required to put into place such systems, so it requires a careful and systematic approach.
These are just some of the regulatory changes affecting various different markets in Europe, as well as overall. Because Europe is made up of so many different jurisdictions, it can be very difficult to untangle the mess of laws in each country for online betting operators as well as their affiliates.
While it is infinitely easier to concentrate just on one market and know it well, this restricts potential profits. People operating within the space would do well to ensure they stay on top of changing laws in each jurisdiction that they offer services or affiliate links within. Those looking to get into the online gambling market in Europe need to be aware of the specific rules and regulations that exist within their chosen country of operation – or choose another one that has more relaxed laws.
Should the US sports betting case rule in the favor of New Jersey this summer, we may also see this sort of disjointed regulatory effect in the US, if it’s seen that states should be in control of these operations, and online sports betting becomes legal. While this would be a win for overall online gambling in the US, it’s likely to cause further headaches across jurisdictions for gambling houses and affiliates. While the web itself is international, laws surrounding web use, and in particular online gambling, certainly are not.