Online Gambling Trading Restrictions
While millions of users may use online gambling sites responsibly, there is no doubt that gambling can represent a serious addiction issue for some. While gambling sites have long been closely monitored, most legal entities have placed the responsibility on gamblers to monitor themselves rather than placing restrictions on gambling sites to help those with a problem. Some sites voluntarily allow players to self-exclude themselves, but some sites actually utilize tactics that can undermine a player's ability to do even that. In some cases, gambling sites may still send promotional emails or special offers during the self-imposed opt-out period and even make it ridiculously easy for a player to simply sign up with a new account.
Gambling sites can be hard to regulate because they operate across multiple jurisdictional borders. While online gambling is illegal in the US, that doesn't mean the United States can stop its citizens from participating in online gambling. There are countries, however, that have significantly more authority and ability to regulate online gambling. The EU, for instance, has a greater ability simply because of the number of participatory agencies it represents. As such, the Victorian Government recently secured a commitment from various state and local governments to adhere to a National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering. This framework includes a number of online gambling trading restrictions that will subject online gambling sites to many of the same restrictions that alcohol or controlled substance vendors have to abide by. Here is an outline of the new online gambling trading restrictions in place as of May 2019 and those scheduled to take effect as of 2020.
2019 Online Gambling Guidelines
- Referral bonuses: Just like almost any other business, casinos and gaming establishments generally offer various promotions or bonuses for customers who refer their family or friends. Under the new requirements, however, gambling operators are no longer allowed to offer any kind of incentives to induce account holders to refer family or friends to open a betting account.
- Immediate withdrawals: Generally, when casinos offer any type of bonus or incentive, it comes with a rollover requirement. This means that the account holder has to place a certain number or amount of bets before they can withdraw the money. The exact amount that needs to be bet will change depending on the bonus. For instance, a fairly standard bonus and rollover requirement is a 100% match with a 5X rollover requirement. This means that if the account holder deposits $100 in their account, the gambling establishment will match it with a $100 bonus. The caveat, however, is that the user must bet at least 5x the entire amount. Therefore, in order to meet a 5x rollover requirement on a $100 deposit + $100 bonus ($200), they need to make $1,000 in bets.
In theory, you could simply keep betting the bonus amount until you either met the $1,000 requirement or lost the full bonus and then simply withdraw your intial deposit. Casinos get around this, however, by forcing you to bet with your own money first and then the bonus only activates once you have lost the full amount of the deposit. Even when the bonus is activated, you still have to complete $1,000 in bets before you can withdraw either the bonus or any additional money you may have won. Under the new guidelines, however, casinos cannot offer bonuses that cannot be immediately withdrawn by the account holder.
- Email Marketing: Many businesses purchase email lists from other similar businesses and send out mass marketing emails. Casinos are no exception. Under the new guidelines, however, casinos are no longer allowed to send direct marketing to consumers without their express consent. This means they have to manually opt-in to receive marketing materials. Casinos are also not allowed to offer any incentives to encourage consumers to opt-in and they also have to make it easy for consumers to unsubscribe or opt-out as well.
- Deposit limits: Casinos will now be required to ensure that all customers place a limit on the amount they can deposit into their account (deposit limit) or to manually opt-out of these deposit limits. Casinos must also provide simple and easy-to-understand instructions for setting these deposit limits as well as rejecting any deposit that would breach these limits.
- Easy withdrawals/ account closures: Online casinos regularly institute policies that can make it very difficult for customers to withdraw their deposits or winnings or to close an account. These can include things like paying out winnings in weekly or monthly disbursements or wait times of a week or more. In addition, while customers are waiting for their withdrawals, they can still gamble with the funds and casinos generally continue to offer bonuses or send additional promotional materials encouraging them to continue gambling with any funds left in their account rather than withdrawing it. In many cases, once a customer uses any of the funds in their account, they have to initiate a new withdrawal and the clock starts all over again. Under the new guidelines, however, casinos must not only make it simple and easy to withdraw funds or close a betting account, but they are also not allowed to offer any incentives or rewards for keeping the account open.
2020 Online Gambling Guidelines
By 2020, online gambling operators will also be required to have the following procedures in place.
- Activity statements and account history: By 2020, online gambling establishments will need to be able to provide account holders with betting activity statements at least once per year at no cost. In addition, they must also provide individuals with betting account history information at no cost, whenever the individual requests it.
- Responsible gaming messages: Also starting in 2020, gambling establishments will be responsible for displaying approved responsible gaming messages on internet applications, direct marketing materials, advertising and account websites.
- Training: All relevant staff that is involved in the provision of wagering services will be required to complete training in responsible service of interactive wagering and betting, as well as to undergo refresher training on a regular basis.
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