While most countries’ leaders are concerned about controlling the spread of coronavirus through imposing quarantine measures, some British MPs’ main concern is to impose even tighter regulations and restrictions on the suffering betting sector by demanding that gambling firms enforce daily betting limits.
Stating concern for those affected by problem gambling, a group of MPs have sent a letter to the Betting and Gaming Council asking for gambling firms to enforce a £50 daily limit on betting. The MPs have also asked for players to be blocked from opening multiple accounts.
While it’s clear the MPs have the best interests of problem gamblers at heart, this could also be an instance of a government body using a crisis as an opportunity to establish extra control over an industry that’s long been in its crosshairs. The government could possibly use the crisis as a precedent for further limits in the future, or insist that emergency measures remain in place after the emergency itself is over.
The MPs are asking for the limit due to their concerns about the types of sports betting that gambling firms and sportsbooks are offering. With the absence of major sporting events, British and European operators are offering betting on sports that would normally be considered unorthodox in their home markets, such as table tennis, camel racing, and Belorusian football.
The MPs, who are part of a parliamentary group aimed at reforming the gambling industry, view the new betting opportunities as inherently riskier than the sportsbook’s normal offerings, as most of their usual punters are unlikely to be experts on, for example, professional cricket in New Zealand.
On one hand, it may be the case that problem gamblers are facing increased risk from betting on events they’re completely unfamiliar with (unless they happen to be an aficionado of camel racing or Japanese baseball). On the other, however, it’s important to note that the vast majority of the betting audience are punters who make conscious betting decisions based on logic and facts, and now they are only trying to make the most of the limited number of data feeds available.
Operators should take note that the MPs are responding to punters’ enthusiastic embrace of betting on esoteric sporting events, esports, and virtual sports. Companies like William Hill have already seen noticeable increases in betting on virtual sports and other ongoing events in the wake of the cancelation of major sporting events across the globe.
It’s no wonder that operators are embracing the opportunity to push unconditional betting options to cope with revenue losses. However, the government is not making things easier, and seems to be using concern about problem gambling as an excuse to further advocate prejudice against the industry and pressure the gambling sector.
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