Lawyers in the online gambling industry
The gambling industry has undergone more change and growth than many other major industries in the past 20 years. The rapid development of the internet and technological advancements have opened up a brand-new corridor of expansion for gambling companies online.
Take up was slow at first, with a small selection of forward-thinking companies bringing their gambling facilities to an online audience. The success of these pioneering companies was staggering and provided a blueprint for others to follow.
With the amount of online casino companies operating in the UK skyrocketing, and more comprehensive legislation has also followed suit, with lawmakers keen to keep the industry within the confines of the law.
It is in the best interests of a trusted online casino to enlist the services of competent, hard-working lawyers. What exactly though, does a lawyer for an online gambling company have to oversee? Read on to find out.
The 2005 Gambling Act
The 2005 gambling act was introduced to help regulate the gambling industry and ensure both businesses and customers were protected.
In 2005 the Gambling Act was written into law by parliament citing the following as its objectives:
- Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime.
- Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
- Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
Of course, this is not all that the Gambling Act covers, rather it is an example of the main objectives of the legislation. Lawyers employed by online casinos must ensure that their client is, at the bare minimum, compliant with all the requirements of the Gambling Act.
In regards to online gambling in particular this may mean in broad terms, that their client has systems and processes in place to detect and report suspicious criminal activity such as money laundering.
Also, that their client is open and transparent about return to player percentages on slot machines and house edges with regards to traditional casino games such as roulette and blackjack.
Finally, through their legal team, an online casino will have to demonstrate that they have legally sound and reasonable processes for prohibiting underage gambling. In addition to this there are a myriad of other requirements that the Gambling Act sets out, which a lawyer will assist their client in satisfying. 777 is an example of fully compliant and responsible gaming online casino which goes above and beyond to ensure their customers are protected.
Data Protection Laws
Brush up your GDPR knowledge by learning about all of the key facets it currently covers.
In May 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced across the European Union. The legislation was an update to data protection laws which had been set out in 1998, which was largely, no longer relevant thanks to advances in modern technology and the internet.
Under GDPR companies and organisations are required to safeguard the sensitive data of clients and employees in a demonstrable way. The regulations also limit the way in which companies and organisations can accrue personal data, also obliging them to be open and transparent with their customers as to how they securely store personal data.
Lawyers therefore must write things such as privacy policies which are made openly available to online casino customers. The legal team must also audit the online casino to ensure that its data capture and storage systems are compliant with GDPR.
This is no half-baked exercise with fines for breaking GDPR starting at either 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is greater.
Malta is an area where many global businesses are based in order to benefit from lower tax rates.
Most online casinos operating within the UK are based overseas in territories such as Gibraltar or Malta where tax rates are significantly lower. This is a policy not unique to the gambling industry, with many major global companies operating in a similar way.
Whilst this does reduce the overall tax bill of an online casino company, it does provide complications for legal teams. Gambling regulations in the UK require companies to pay a percentage of their earnings in tax to the government, regardless of which country they operate from.
In addition to this, gambling companies operating in the UK must donate a percentage of their annual turnover to dedicated gambling charities. It is the duty of the company’s legal team to ensure that all tax obligations are met, in the country of origin and the country of operation.
In recent years the relationship between gambling and advertising has been brought into focus by several high-profile media campaigns. The law in relation to gambling advertising is very clear and must be adhered to stringently by companies and their legal teams.
However, one of the roles of a legal team is to ensure that gambling companies advertising campaigns are operated in a ‘morally correct’ way. Increasing public pressure on policy makers looks likely to lead to a change in advertising laws within the not too distant future.
By ensuring that their clients advertising campaigns are not only legal, but ‘morally correct’, gambling lawyers can keep their client one step ahead of the curve.
Settling Customer Disputes
Every service industry in the world is beset by customer complaints, but what matters in terms of the law is resolving them in a fair and reasonable manner. Gambling complaints usually centre on the adjustment of odds or a failure by a company to honour the outcome of a winning bet.
The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) acts as an intermediary between customers and companies to settle disputes. In 2019 there were 6,282 requests for adjudication with £634,426 being conceded to customers.
It is often the role of the legal team to ensure that customer complaints do not proceed to this stage. The first stage in doing that is ensuring that the client adheres strictly to the terms of the Gambling Act in regards to fairness and transparency.
When disputes arise regardless of this, lawyers must attempt to resolve the dispute in a way that is both fair to the client and the consumer
The role of a lawyer under the instruction of an online casino company is both complex and detailed. It is not sufficient for an online gambling organisation to adhere solely to the Gambling Act.
There are many other acts and pieces of legislation to cover, which is why a team of specialised lawyers is often required by large gambling companies to ensure the organisation is operating legally in all situations.