Understanding Online Casino Regulatory Rules and Guidelines
The guidelines and rules used by online gambling regulatory commissions can seem complicated. While there are some differences between the different regulatory groups, a lot is the same as well. Here we’ll walk you through some of the most common similarities to show you more of how this works.
Getting Started With Understanding Regulatory Policies
Regulations are put in place by various governments on the national, state and provincial levels to protect players in the online gambling industry. The rules and guidelines they use can vary a bit because there’s not any one international set of standards.
However, because they’re all after the same goal, it’s pretty natural that there are some major similarities as well.
Suppose you want to understand how the regulatory guidelines work in the general sense. It’s these similarities that are important to focus on. What we want to do here is break down the major goals of these regulatory commissions. From there, we’ll show you the most popular ways that they go about it. Most of the similarities come from the set of goals each commission has. However, most of the differences are fairly small and are in how they go about reaching these goals.
Main Principles: The Goals of Online Casino Regulations
The main point of these regulations is to keep players safe. However, that covers a whole lot of ground. Before we jump into much more detail, let’s look at some of the most common areas where players need protection:
- Maintaining the fairness of the games
- Overseeing the correct storage of player funds
- Preventing predatory behavior
- Protecting personal details and financial information
- Avoiding the facilitation of money laundering
We’ll look at each of these below and what regulatory bodies do in each particular area. This will illustrate some of the differences, but the above are the major similarities in what they’re after.
Maintaining the Fairness of the Games
Everyone knows that the casino has the advantage in most games most of the time. If they didn’t, then there would probably not be any type of online casino industry. However, there’s still a such thing as fairness in this environment.
For example, you don’t want a situation where players are lied to about the nature of the games. What if players were enjoying a slot that had a top jackpot that was achieved by hitting a certain combination. However, several years go by, and no one ever hit that combination. That would be very suspicious, but players would be left wondering if it was simply luck.
Without being able to examine the actual content of the coding and programming of the game, you can’t tell. This is something regulatory commissions can do, however, and most of them require it. In fact, they go further and have software companies post and prove the house edge of their games. This is often listed as the “return to player” rate as a percentage.
That sort of thing is in place to protect players from shady tactics regarding the fairness of the games.
Overseeing the Correct Storage of Player Funds
An online casino has two types of funds that they have to store and work with. On the one hand, you have the funds they use to run their business, purchase supplies, pay bills, etc. On the other hand, you have funds that they’re storing that actually belong to players. The goal is to never have these two types of funds mixed together in the same accounts.
It’s easy to see why this would be a problem. It would be really tempting for a casino to use player funds for operating expenses. If enough players wanted to cash out, then there could be a situation where not enough funds are available.
This is actually what happened in the late 2000s and early 2010s to a site called Full Tilt Poker. While they weren’t supposed to, they pooled these funds together. Ultimately, they didn’t have the funds to pay out to their players.
Modern regulatory commissions have guidelines that keep this type of thing from happening. The most common approach is that each player’s funds have to be in segregated bank accounts. That would mean that your funds are actually held in a specific account with a real bank somewhere. This shows that the funds aren’t being mixed with anything they’re not supposed to.
Preventing Predatory Behavior
Predatory behavior can be a lot of different things in the online gambling world. However, we specifically mean this as applies to those who have issues with problem gambling. No reasonable person wants to see people taken advantage of for something that’s out of their control.
However, there are some shady business operators out there who would do just that. That’s why these regulatory bodies are needed.
We typically focus on two areas when it comes to predatory behavior. The first is allowing players to self-exclude from a given site. This essentially means they can decide not to allow themselves to play by filling out a form or an email. The idea here is straightforward, but what if that company put you on a mailing list for doing this?
That leads us into the second type of predatory behavior: advertising. If you had a mailing list of players who had self-excluded, that means they have issues with problem gambling. From there, a shady business could simply bombard them with promotional emails for another site they own. That’s the type of unethical behavior that these regulatory commissions are trying to prevent.
Once again, there are a lot of different ways to go about this sort of thing. However, heavy fines and massive penalties (even up to the seven-figure range) have been seen by groups like the UK Gambling Commission for violating policies surrounding this. Additionally, they take it so seriously because it’s such a serious problem for those who would be targeted. Even though they are only a percent or two of the overall population, they must be protected.
Protecting Personal Details and Financial Information
It seems like we hear about a new data breach each month sometimes. This can mean tons of emails, passwords, financial details and other information is compromised. Since online casinos will have a lot of information about you, it’s critical that this information is handled properly.
This is why data handling is such a critical part of what these entities regulate. They want to make sure, to the best of their ability, that players aren’t vulnerable to these attacks. However, they go even further. They do this by often requiring that data be stored in a way that it will do the least amount of damage possible if some type of data breach was to happen. That’s the degree to which they’re serious about this because it’s such a critical topic.
As a result, we don’t really see major data breaches happen with big brands that follow regulatory guidelines. Contrast that to how often they seem to happen in other industries. Quickly the utility of these regulatory bodies becomes apparent.
Avoiding the Facilitation of Money Laundering
Our final point we’re going to look at is one that most people don’t consider. Money laundering can be done through online gambling in a serious way if it’s not regulated and watched for. Various types of illegal activities can benefit from this and operate on a larger scale if it’s accomplished. That’s obviously not good for players, and it’s something that these regulators have policies about.
This is one of the reasons why you may get asked by some regulatory commissions or sites about your employment and other details. This can tie into them making sure that you’re not being taken advantage of from a financial sense. However, it also helps them to verify that players aren’t laundering money from shady sources.
Of all of the points we looked at here, this is probably the one that affects players in the most indirect way. That’s why it’s difficult to understand or think of if you haven’t been shown how it works by someone else. Simply put, it’s hard to realize there’s a need for laundering money if you aren’t ever thinking about it specifically.
Most people don’t, so this ends up being a hidden benefit of sorts.
Players from all over have seen regulatory bodies pop up and expand for online gambling over the years. This is a very good thing for most players most of the time, and it’s exactly what’s needed. Several different things need to be watched over by an independent third party to keep players safe. That’s exactly what these bodies do, and that’s why they’re so important.