Regardless of its regulatory challenges, the online betting sector has been able to deliver exponential growth over the course of the past two decades. Nevertheless, facing increased regulatory and sustainability demands, combined with fast-changing consumer habits, betting operators need payment/banking incumbents to deliver on new innovations
In March 2018 the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released its yearly review outlining that: “Following the implementation of the Gambling Act 2014 (2014 Act), Great Britain now has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world which generates £4.7bn gross gambling yield (GGY) per annum and is expected to continue to grow strongly, albeit not at the high rates that were seen during the sector’s early growth phase.”
The expectation for the gambling industry continues to grow, along with smaller startups developing frequently, and banks are constantly having to regulate large amounts of money being deposited and withdrawn.
Speaking at SBC’s Betting on Sports conference last year, Matt Harrod, Vice President of Processing.com, discussed banks’ attitude towards the gambling industry as a whole and how he feels it ‘seems very negative’.
“I think that the gambling industry gets a really hard time, still which is crazy considering the amount of revenue it brings to the UK purse, I think was about £3bn last year.”
Harrod believes that the UKGC could do more to educate the banks and eliminate the negative connotations – stemming from a small minority of problem gamblers.
He continued: “There is a lot of work that the Gambling Commission are doing to try and stamp that out, and to try and minimise the risk.
Technological advancements have created new possibilities for online gambling operators.
The dozens of startups that have launched off the back of these advancements are often viewed as an unknown quantity by the banks, and therefore gaining banking facilities can be a difficult task.
Paul Marcantonio, Head of UK and Western Europe, ECommPay, spoke of the difficulties startups face. He said: “I think in the last ten years banks in the UK certainly are more willing to support a well-established and up-and-running gambling operator across all the tiers of gambling, rather than a new start-up.
“If they don’t have a banking facility to get them set-up, they’re never going to establish that pedigree and that history. I don’t think that the banks are any more keen to support a start-up gambling operator than they have been.”
A case could be made that online gambling is high-risk category for banks to associate themselves with.
Yet, Co-founder of MuchBetter, Jens Bader believes strong communication and cooperation between the business and the bank can help online gambling operators gain the trust needed.
He said: “ You need to get the balance right. And you can only do this in cooperation with your partners, and the banks.
“Money in is one of the most business-critical factors for a igaming operator. So you have to have a very strong supplier networks, and banks that stand by your side.”
As technology develops it brings with it different and new payment types, for example cryptocurrencies, which all drives a businesses risk profile.
Bader continued: “Banks are struggling to understand how to keep up with this and I think the banks are very scared today to see almost an uncontrolled flow of income in customer originated transactions, deposits.”