In a recent interview with the British newspaper Sunday Times, Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen reportedly cast doubts over future regulations in the core online gambling market.
It is utterly important for me that our customers understand that we have their safety at heart and that they see us as a trusted entertainment provider.Andersen claimed that too many restrictions may result in gamblers turning away from legal regulated sites, instead, seeking their fortune on “black market” sites operating without an official gambling license, as quoted by the City A.M. newspaper on January 9, 2022.
These unregulated websites carry high risks of potential identity theft, stolen funds, and other malicious activity, as they do not offer the safety measures and security tools as licensed sites operating legally. In order to obtain and keep their licenses, legally-operating gambling sites must meet all restrictions and put an emphasis on responsible gambling.
The global online gambling operator and its Ladbrokes brand also made the mainstream headlines recently for other reasons as well — within the last two years, the UK-based bookmaker claimed over £100 million in furlough payments during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, despite the company’s overall successes during that time.
Nygaard-Andersen is wary of even more restrictions as part of the expected new set of rules for the gambling industry in the UK, pointing to the need for a healthy balance between the enforced guidelines and pushing customers towards unregulated platforms.
The latter trend gained momentum during the worldwide pandemic according to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). Based on research conducted in 2021 by the industry agency for betting and gaming in the UK, the number of customers placing wagers on an unlicensed betting website more than doubled since 2019.
“It is somewhat unfair, the reputation that our industry has,” she added. “It is utterly important for me that our customers understand that we have their safety at heart and that they see us as a trusted entertainment provider,” Nygaard-Andersen clarified during the interview.
All major operators including those owned by Entain adhere to the high standards of the policymakers in the UK in order to meet all license obligations. More restrictions are up ahead in the following months when the British government is expected to release their envisioned reforms of gambling laws this spring in a white paper. This was already supposed to happen in 2021 and the delays in the process brought upon some criticism by the betting companies.
The introduction of affordability checks for customers may very well be among the new restrictions and have already been enforced in the online poker industry. While an even stricter set of rules certainly helps towards protecting the vulnerable patrons, it may also frustrate other customers and lead them to sites outside of the law as well.
*Industry leaders in the betting market aim to combat that with sophisticated safer gambling measures and the support of organizations such as GambleAware. In the first half of the 2021 financial year, they received donations and pledges worth more than £10 million. Entain contributed £2 million in donations and accounted for another £2 million in Safer Gambling RET pledges.
Outside of the UK, international gambling giant Entain has also increased the efforts for further education about gambling risks and help in particular as well.
The Entain Foundation US, a non-profit subsidiary of the parent company, launched the free “Gamble Responsibly America” app in the US. It contains no branding and includes features such as a gambling diary, time-out allotments, and a self-assessment quiz.
While the overall efforts of the company may not be widely known to the general public, they certainly represent one of the most dedicated safer gambling programs in the iGaming industry.