UK casinos and the challenge in attracting the world’s wealthy

UK Casinos

It hasn’t been the easiest start to 2018 for the bookmaking industry, with countless criticisms thrust in its direction and changes recommended to the way things have typically been.

Arguably most featured in the news has been the talk of maximum staking on in-shop betting terminals, with calls to reduce this staking from its current level of £100 to as little as £2.

Gambling advertising has also hit the headlines, with a set of new standards created which intend to prevent an “inappropriate sense of urgency” to wager. This is usually done through phrases such as Bet Now during live events.

The standards also plan to restrict adverts that encourage repetitive play and irresponsibly advocate that a deposit may be risk free.

Then, extra clarity has been demanded in the way bonus offers are promoted, particularly in ensuring that key terms are more visible and understood. Most notable is the need to highlight any wagering requirements attached to an offer.

Issues surrounding the closure of accounts of successful gamblers is another thing to have been raised, especially in the speed that such moves are being carried out.

Markers

Yet while bookmakers are having to make changes both in their shops and online, which for the most part encourage people to bet less, land-based casinos are requesting changes to allow them to attract customers who want to bet more.

UK casinos are shackled compared to establishments around the rest of the world by The Gambling Act 2005, which prevents them from being able to offer customers credit.

The purpose may be to prevent problem gamblers from gaining access to a line of credit that they will be unable to pay back, but it is also reducing the attractiveness of the casinos to potential wealthy players from other locations worldwide.

London-based trio Crown Aspinalls, Crockfords and the Hippodrome Casino are among those campaigning to have the Act amended.

The latter’s chief executive Simon Thomas told The Express: “Worldwide, high-end customers get what we call a ‘marker’ – they are allowed to gamble on credit rather than having to transfer money from country to country and be subject to the vagaries of different exchange rates.

“All we’re asking for is a simple change in the law to allow customers in British casinos to do the same.”

Positives

For potential casino customers travelling to the UK from abroad, arriving with a substantial bankroll in cash brings its own concerns.

Arrive from outside of the EU and any cash sum of €10,000 or an equivalent amount must be declared to customs. There are bound to be certain high-end customers reluctant to go through this rigmarole of notifying authorities when they can go elsewhere and gamble with credit.

For those who are prepared to make this effort, they are unlikely to want to carry their evening’s bankroll around with them on their person. There would certainly be safety concerns when it comes to having bulging pockets full of cash in terms of some getting lost or stolen.

Withdrawing vast sums of money from cash points once a person reaches the UK could also be difficult, while stashing money in a hotel safe is not necessarily the most practical either, specifically if their accommodation happens to be beyond walking distance from a casino.

If nothing else, it is highly convenient for high-end players to set up a marker and with casinos keen to pull out the stops for their biggest fish, this is just another perk that can be offered to make a visitor feel special in comparison to the general masses.

We have previously looked into the ways in which casinos treat whales and small fish differently here and here.

Encouraging more of the worldwide wealthy to gamble in the UK also potentially has a benefit to the coffers of the government, as Mr Thomas additionally explained to The Express.

“At the high-end we pay 50% of any money lost to the government in tax on our gross profits, and corporation tax on top of that,” he said.

“And research has shown that the more people win, the more they spend on nearby hotels, restaurants and shops, which is a considerable upside for the UK economy.”

Negatives

There are three potential negatives for customers should they be offered a line of credit within the casino.

The first is aimed at those players likely to go on tilt during losing streaks and begin to bet wildly to chase losses. Impatient players unprepared to wait for conditions to potentially swing back in their favour could spin out of control before that point.

However, for the super wealthy, any debt is unlikely to prove unaffordable and the onus is on the casino in question to conduct the relevant background checks to determine the calibre of player to warrant a credit line.

For the player, the credit checks that will have to be carried out prevents them from maintaining any sort of anonymity.

Furthermore, should a player wish to play at multiple casinos, which an overseas player is likely to if visiting the UK, they would need to take out a credit line at each establishment.