There is a lot of talk about how the consumption habits of millennials, people in their twenties and thirties, have impacted many industries. The online gambling industry is another one that has changed very much in order to match the buying habits of these young people who make up quite a large and vocal section of society.
One thing that defines millennials is that they have a great deal of familiarity with sophisticated technology. In fact, this particular segment of the population has grown up using technology and is therefore absolutely comfortable using it. Millennials are more likely than others to use their smartphones to go online. The rapid advances in mobile phone technology have also ensured that more and more activities can be done on them without any problems. The other defining feature of this particular generation is its fondness for social media.
The online gambling industry has been very quick to identify the potential of this youthful yet cash rich market segment. In fact, the leading service providers in this industry are very keen to find ways to tap into this segment which hasn’t yet show a great deal of interest in gambling. In fact, millennials who have been so keen to do so many things on the internet haven’t been doing a lot of gambling online. One reason could be that they prefer the immersive nature of video games and therefore feel that online gambling is not interesting enough.
The gaming industry has plenty of reason to cheer since there are indications that this particular segment of the population is beginning to show interest in gambling on the internet. In fact, a study commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission discovered that there was a seven percent increase in gambling within the 18 – 24 age group. Furthermore, the age of the average gambler was dropping from year to year. It stands to reason that they are choosing to do so using their smartphones and tablets instead of their PCs.
Online casinos are trying to attract young customers by featuring games that are especially designed to be interesting for them. Slot games such as Double Bubble slot is very appealing to younger gamblers because they are fast paced and have high quality animation that is akin to video games. It is also increasingly becoming clear that the younger generation of gamblers prefers games that have elements of skill and not just luck. Therefore, game developers have started making games that are skill-based and also have many unusual features. Customers these days expect to come across many novel features when they play games or gamble on the internet.
Online casinos are also making changes to their websites in order to make them accessible via smartphones. Increasing numbers of sites are being optimized for smartphone usage since this is clearly the way of the future. They are also incorporating many elements of social media since this clearly appeals to the younger market segment. It will definitely be interesting to see all the changes that will be brought about in the gambling industry.
The South African National Assembly rejected the DA’s proposed law to control and regulate the growing online gambling industry. The bill was not taken well by the members. It was described as an attempt to make people jobless and take away from the table. The members also argued that this will for sure increase the rate of crime in the white collar segment and create a lot of chaos in the job market and society at large.
While some members were not in favour of supporting the bill, some of them boldly stood in favour of it. Geordin Hill-Lewis from instance openly expressed his dissatisfaction over the non-cooperation on this one. He stated that the house was making a mistake and that it would understand this in due course. He is of the view that the regulation of the gambling industry is inevitable and the quicker it is implemented, the better it is for everyone.
He also mentioned that the 2007 Gambling Act could never take effect. This added to the history of confusion and chaos for the industry. He is of the view that the online gambling industry has never followed any rules or regulations as such. The MP feels the regulation would be the best course of action in order to save the general public. Notably a trade industry report recommended rejecting this bill.
The present bill suggested various ways of protecting the affected and those who are vulnerable to be exposed to online gambling. It also recommended how to secure revenue that was lost to fiscus. Jan Esterhuizen from the IFP argued that there are as many as 2000 illegal gambling establishments and it makes sense to make them legal. This will not only ensure compliance but will help the Government to control them with greater authority.
Shaik Emam, the MP from the National Freedom Party gave a very passionate speech and argued that gambling cause misery and a sense of helplessness among the poor. People lose interest in their job and this leads to more crime. He went on to mention that online gambling degrades the quality of life and that children go to bed without food. Ha accused the DA of not being considerate enough for the poor. His speech was backed by the whole party and he ended his note to a thunderous applause from all the MP’s in the house.
As a matter of fact, some of the lobbyists are extensively working up to get online betting legalised in South Africa. This will come as a major blow for them. Not only the 2000 betting companies would suffer but it would come as a major blow to some of the big players who have been waiting and watching the proceedings in South Africa. The online gambling industry is considered to be billion dollar industry in South Africa where millions of tourists and corporate crowd throng the land based casinos. Industry insiders see this as a move to protect the land based casinos from their online counterpart.
Poland has plans to change its gambling laws in order to include online slots and poker. However, there is no indication about the tax structure applicable to the industry. More specifically, there is no confirmation whether Poland-licensed gambling operators will get the tax breaks they are looking for with changes in Poland gambling law.
The online gambling industry is changing at an extremely fast pace, and people are increasingly choosing to play at online casinos instead of brick and mortar casinos. After all, it is a lot more convenient to play games like Double Bubble slot using one’s laptop or PC, or increasingly, one’s hand held device.
There was great excitement in the industry recently when Poland’s Ministry of Finance provided hints about the long awaited revisions to the Poland gambling laws. Operators with local licenses will be permitted to offer online games such as slots and poker, with the understanding that they will follow regulations put in place for protecting customers. The government also intends to authorise slots in land based casinos, subject to a number of stringent restrictions. The prevailing opinion in the government is that slots are best kept under a great deal of control on account of their supposed addictiveness.
Most interestingly, the Ministry of Finance’s latest statements on online gambling are in sharp contrast to the statement made by Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin just the previous week. The minister had made a differentiation between casino games including slots and other verticals such as poker and sports betting, saying that the former came under the category of hard gambling and were therefore, potentially harmful to society.
While Minister Gowin will undoubtedly be unhappy about the proposal to permit online slots, he will support the proposal to reduce restrictions on online and land-based poker. As of now, poker is offered only by land based casinos in the country, but there is immense demand for it on the internet. At present, people from Poland visit online casinos to get their fill of all sorts of gambling games.
The Ministry of Finance has stated that it will take action against online operators licensed in other jurisdictions that serve this market even though they are not permitted to do so. There are many operators serving this market and many of them are fraudulent. People playing on these sites can lose their money and personal information to criminal gangs. The government intends to block access to many of these sites and also to prevent payments to them. Any operator that continues to break the law will also have to face serious consequences.
No Update on Taxes
The Ministry’s statement unfortunately did not specify whether there would be any changes to taxes affecting the gambling industry. Operators currently have to bear a 12% tax on turnover. There are hints, however, that this will be changed to 20%.
The new gambling rules are intended to be applicable from January 1, 2017. At present, the proposed revisions have been submitted to the relevant government branches in order to obtain their opinion.