2020 was already shaping up as a transitional year for Europe’s gambling sector before the pandemic hit, with major operators distracted by the need to plant flags in the exploding US sports betting market.
But the year was primarily notable for the tightening screws in European markets either regulated or in the process of regulating, with ‘consumer protection’ the new go-to phrase, although operators ultimately concluded it was they who needed protection from a combination of governments, regulators and the usual media suspects.
The UK market closed out 2020 with news that the government’s long-promised review of the Gambling Act 2005 was finally underway. That followed numerous consultations between the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and its ‘working groups’ on issues such as game design, advertising, bonus offers and VIP programs.
That latter subject featured one of the year’s most unfortunate episodes, as two Playtech B2C brands were found to have plied a 25-year-old high-roller with free-play offers right up until – and for a few hours shortly after – his suicide in 2017.