In recent times, headlines in the UK have been discussing safety in gambling, online bettor protection, and betting companies’ influence on sports. It’s plain to see how this shows the UK’s commitment to responsible gambling. In contrast, the US, with less online sports betting experience, is expected to be behind in safer gambling. This article looks at the differences and similarities in safer gambling between the UK and the US.
Safer Gambling in the UK
The UK has a stable online gambling participation rate of 27% in 2023, now down from the pre-pandemic level of 35%. Remarkably, the UK maintains a low overall problem gambling rate of 0.3%, which is statistically lower than many other countries. In Q1 2023, moderate and low-risk gambling rates stood at 1.2% and 1.8%, respectively.
The UK has made a valiant effort to put together a system that protects players. GamCare, founded in 1997 with initial National Lottery funding, stands as a leading authority on safer gambling. GamCare offers a national helpline and collaborates with organisations like Gamban and Gamstop to provide protective tools. The legalisation of online gambling in 2005 marked a pivotal moment, leading to the development of comprehensive, safer gambling measures.
Safer Gambling in the US
Gambling in the UK and largely Europe is somewhat different from what it is in the US. As an example, in the UK there are non Vegas (or Atlantic City) style resorts and casinos, but local betting shops are plenty. Furthermore, Europe has been a lot more pro-online gambling than the US where online betting (and to a much lesser extent casinos) has started regulating since 2018. At the same time there are different player preferences such as the sports that Brits and Americans mostly wager on – football (soccer) and horse racing versus American football, basketball and baseball. A particular difference is also that in the US the most played version of roulette is the American one (it has double 00) whereas in the UK it is the European roulette (it has only one 0 and you can play European roulette here).
Estimating problem gambling rates in the US is challenging due to its state-by-state gambling operations. However, various organisations suggest problem gambling rates between 1.2% and 6.2%, potentially affecting up to 20 million US residents.
The US has the Responsible Gambling Council, operational for over 35 years, working to implement safeguards for gamblers. While a positive precursor to the legalisation of online gambling, the US has not witnessed the same expansion of safer gambling provisions or the emergence of organisations seen in the UK.
This raises questions about whether there is a disparity in attitudes toward safer gambling measures between the two countries. While statistics indicate differences, it’s unclear whether this reflects a cultural gap or the need for the US to develop similar organisations and initiatives over time.
Comparing Safer Gambling Approaches
To assess the contrast in attitudes toward safer gambling measures between the UK and the US, it’s vital to consider not just the statistical side but also the framework that supports the already existing organisations and principles. Here are key areas where the UK excels in promoting responsible gambling:
Safer Gambling Week – This annual campaign engages the public, betting operators, and sports organisations to promote safer gambling practices.
Strict Regulation and Licensing – The UK imposes stringent regulations and licensing requirements on gambling operators. Not only must their sites be secure, but they must also provide easy access to self-exclusion.
Voluntary Ban on Shirt Sponsorships – Starting from the 2025-26 season, the UK will ban gambling establishments from sponsoring the front of English Premier League shirts.
Podcasts and Online Chat Rooms – Various podcasts and online forums in the UK encourage gamblers to share their experiences and tips for safer gambling.
Safer Gambling Executives – Betting site operators in the UK have a designated position for compliance agents.
The Role of Grassroots Efforts
One notable difference between the UK and the US in promoting safer gambling is the presence of grassroots initiatives. These initiatives are often started by individuals with personal experiences of gambling issues. They play a crucial role in raising awareness and advocating for safer gambling practices. The message becomes more accessible and understandable, like Brighton’s best dishes, are to the unbiased food critic.
Future Prospects for Safer Gambling in the US
The disparities in safer gambling attitudes and provisions between the UK and the US are evident. While the UK has a well-established framework with a strong focus on education, regulation, and support networks, the US is still in the early stages of developing its safer gambling infrastructure.
It will be intriguing to observe whether the US follows a similar trajectory in the coming years or places greater emphasis on the initiatives already in place. If you are searching for something else to watch instead, a TV guide might come in handy.
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