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Online Gaming Firm Betclic Leaves UK Oct. 31

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It appears as though the competitive nature of the United Kingdom’s online gambling scene has led to the Betclic brand pulling out of the British market. The operator, which goes by the full name of Betclic Everest Group, has chosen to withdraw all of its brands from the UK’s online gambling scene, following a period of what it defined as “low performance” in a “very competitive market.”

Betclic Exits UK

Betclic Out at End of October

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While there may be issues with the UK being able to escape the European Union by a set deadline, Betclic – a French online gambling group – was able to effect its departure from the United Kingdom on Oct. 31, 2019. It was about a week before this date when the Betclic Everest brands issued communications to both players and marketing partners, which confirmed their exit from the U.K.

The three main brands affected by this decision are Betclic, Everest, and Expekt. They run sportsbooks, internet casinos, and online poker sites on the iPoker Network.

While limited access to the operator’s sites will be granted to U.K. players for a little while longer, this will only proceed for just over a month with all of these accounts being closed on Dec. 6, 2019. In that time period, any remaining players from the U.K. market must withdraw their remaining funds. Deposits from such customers were blocked at the time this decision was announced while gameplay halted for them at the end of October.

Betclic WebsiteThe Website of Betclic

Stated Reasons

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Speaking of its seemingly abrupt decision to leave the market, Betclic noted that the United Kingdom has a highly competitive market. Because of that fact, its brands had suffered from many months of lower-than-expected performance.

In reality, though, it doesn’t appear as though Betclic’s U.K.-facing operations are suffering from performance issues. It was only in September that eGaming Review reported that Betclic Group posted a 27% revenue increase year-on-year for the 12 months ending June 30, 2019. Earnings, meanwhile, were up by 39%. Thus, unless the firm's figures for British revenue were totally out of line with its overall financials, the operator isn’t really suffering from poor results when it comes to the U.K. market.

French Operator Follows Several Others Out of UK

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This isn’t the first instance of an operator choosing to leave the UK gambling market though. In fact, it comes as just the latest in a series of operators taking the decision to exit with most stating that it isn’t worth paying out the massive fees to be able to gain access to the country’s gambling population.

It was in March of this year that reports surfaced of the 188Bet brand opting to close its doors to the UK and Ireland in the following month. At the time, the company noted that this was a “commercial decision,” which was made due to the fact that the market in both countries was “very competitive.”

Then, as August rolled around, the JPJ Group made its own decision to pull the Vera & John and InterCasino platforms from the U.K. This was so that it could streamline its own focus on the Jackpotjoy brand although it still meant that the UK was down another two brands. More recently in September, the Cherry AB brand ComeOn looked to refocus on what it called “more favourable markets,” also leaving the UK scene along with its subsidiaries.

Heavy Fines from UKGC Contribute to Uneasiness

It isn’t only the cost of applying for a gambling licence and remaining competitive within the UK market that has led to various operators pulling out though. The country’s Gambling Commission has introduced stricter regulations in recent times, which has led to it dishing out heavy fines to some of the world’s top companies. These have come in light of revelations that certain operators weren’t following guidelines relating to social responsibility, and such fines have been backed by stringent anti-gambling campaigners within the country.

In fact, the fines have been coming thick and fast over the past couple of years, and they haven’t been a few thousand pounds-worth of charges either. In June 2018, the UK Gambling Commission fined popular website 32Red to the tune of £2 million after it was discovered that the platform had failed to abide by anti-money laundering guidelines.

That was nothing compared to what happened in November of the same year though. A total of £14 million ($18 million) in fines was handed out to three separate companies, including the Daub Alderney and Casumo brands. At the same time, a fourth company – CZ Holdings – was forced to surrender its licence following a review by the regulatory body.

Firms Fined by UKGCSome of the Gambling Entities That Have Been Punished by the UKGC

More recently, it was only in July 2019 that the Commission hit the Ladbrokes Coral Group with a £5.9 million ($7.1 million) fine. This, the UKGC said, was due to “systematic failings” in both Ladbrokes' and Coral’s inability to prevent their customers from “suffering gambling harm.”

Granted, these fines haven’t seen the aforementioned companies leaving the UK market yet, but there’s no doubt that it has left a feeling of uneasiness within the country’s gambling industry.

What May the Future Hold?

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If Betclic's performance within the UK market has been low, its withdrawal from the country shouldn’t cause too many problems for the operator. Considering its increase of 27% in revenue to July of this year, there’s little doubt that it has the ways and means of springing back.

Now, the restructuring of Betclic Everest will see the brand opt to focus on its external European market growth. Its first aim looks to be toward moving into the Polish and Portuguese markets with advertising campaigns being launched for each of these countries this summer. Yet, while things may be looking positive for Betclic Everest Group, what about the UK’s online gambling market?

If companies continue to pull out of the country in the same way that they already have been doing lately, it could go from being one of the most diverse and liberal markets to one of the most stagnant. Granted, this is great for the country’s larger brands that don’t really have to worry about competition from others, like Bet365 or GVC Holdings for example. Yet, would the UK gambling population be happy with just a few companies monopolising the scene?

Other Issues in the UK Gambling Field

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The UKGC has launched multiple investigations into its gambling economy in recent years following reports (real or imagined) that problem gambling was up to all-time highs within the country. This also included an increase in the number of youths participating in such with a report from 2018 that allegedly showed that youth gambling was a serious problem. It was then announced in February that the Commission was to introduce stricter ID verification procedures, so as to try and cut down on the number of underage and problem gamblers gaining access to online gambling. These standards came into effect on May 7, 2019.

It’s not only the Gambling Commission that has made its mark on the UK gambling scene. Various other organisations have rules and regulations that online gambling companies must adhere to, such as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This agency oversees all advertising and has brought in its own strict rules against online casinos and the like previously.

For example, in 2018 an advertisement by GalaSpins implied that people could beat online slot games by being talented players. This was just one in a series of blundering advertisements made by the Gala brand. Popular mobile gambling company LeoVegas was also singled out by the ASA earlier on in the same year, having to pay a fine of £627,000 partially due to misleading advertisements.

Something else that has posed a problem for some brands is that, as with any business or company operating in the UK, they are required to comply with rules set out by the Competitions & Markets Authority (CMA). It was only in 2017 that The Stars Group was served an enforcement order by the CMA over its arrangement to acquire Sky Betting and Gaming alongside its parent company, Cyan Blue Topco. After the deal drew the ire of some players and stakeholders, the CMA stepped in and said the deal would have to be halted due to reasonable grounds to suspect a reduction in healthy competition within the sector if it went through.

UK Gambling Oversight AgenciesSome of the Watchdogs That Formulate Rules for U.K. Real Money Gaming

In October of that year, The Stars Group was allowed to proceed with its acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming. Yet, such meddling from bureaucrats remains as an additional factor that gambling companies have to consider when looking to become a part of the UK market.

Offshore Gaming to Increase?

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As more and more industry players are driven out of the British economy by these harsh and often arbitrary regulatory manoeuvres, we can expect offshore companies to pick up some of the slack. There are already plenty of organisations based in foreign jurisdictions that gladly serve U.K. citizens and are beyond the reach of the UKGC and other authorities.

For instance, anyone in Britain can open up an account at Sportsbetting.ag, which offers all the poker, casino, and sports betting action you could crave. Furthermore, you can claim a 100% up to $1,000 first deposit bonus to play cards. For more information, check out our Sportsbetting Poker review.

If you're located in some other jurisdiction, then take a look at our country-specific guides to the best online poker rooms:

Internet Poker Sites for U.S.A. Players

Canada-friendly Online Poker Sites

Online Poker Rooms That Serve Australia