Opinion: Lessons the US Can Learn From the UK’s Responsible Gambling Approach

Stop sign in slot machine

At different stages

The US has the biggest regulated gambling market in the world today and it still has plenty of room to grow. More than 30 states now have legal sportsbooks up and running, while iGaming platforms are live in seven of them. These markets will generate an estimated $26bn in combined revenue by 2028, so it is big business.

The states themselves benefit handsomely, especially those with the highest tax rates, such as New York. Sportsbooks there contributed $727m in tax revenue just last year. Meanwhile, although operators are spending huge sums to try to acquire customers and market share in each state, profits are now on the horizon.

addiction rates don’t appear to be getting any better

One reason that lawmakers typically back legal online gambling legislation is to take business away from black market platforms and better protect consumers. Despite this argument, addiction rates don’t appear to be getting any better.

Traffic for the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) helpline, a service that provides help for those struggling with gambling addiction in the US, rose 21% year-on-year in their last reported month (March 2023). The organization said it expects these numbers to continue to grow as more states embrace legalization.

On the other side of the pond, the UK market is decades old and has gone through a lot of the teething problems that we now see in the US. It has learned many lessons the hard way and now has a regulator that focuses on cultivating a safe gambling environment. What are some things that the US authorities could learn?

The issue with the US

One of the big issues with the US online gambling market is that every state puts its own spin on proceedings. While the core regulations are usually quite similar, they often have different rules about the types of bets people can place and the requirements for operators.

On one hand, stakeholders see the ever-expanding US gambling sector as a gold mine. Operators don’t want more restrictions in what is already a very competitive market as changes would likely hurt their bottom line. Governments want to cash in too and many think that too many restrictions will lead to people using black market platforms or going across state lines to boost the coffers of their neighbors.

America is also the land of the free, so excessive curtailments go against what many believe in. Even traditionally conservative states like Texas and Alabama are now exploring gambling expansion.

the lack of federal oversight of the sector causes issues

However, on the other side, many are concerned that the rapid growth of the US gambling sector is leaving consumers at risk of addiction. While the US government might have every intention of protecting these vulnerable gamblers, the lack of federal oversight of the sector causes issues when trying to put new policies into place.

In contrast, the UK market is all unified under a single regulator – the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which makes it far easier to implement new changes. Just take the recent UK government’s decision to implement a £2 ($2.54) spin limit on online slot machines last month for instance. The UKGC can now ensure that is implemented by operators across the board, whereas this would require collaboration from a regulator in each state in the US.

Funding important programs

UK operators have also paid a voluntary annual levy for years to help fund gambling harm-related programs. The recent white paper on the region’s gambling legislation aims to secure this contribution even further, proposing a 1% mandatory levy on the gross yield of online operators.

No such levy applies in the US market to provide money for underfunded problem gambling programs. It is typically the state regulator that will contribute a fixed payment or a small percentage of tax revenue each year. For example, 2% of the tax intake in Ohio goes toward battling these types of issues but this fluxuates from state to state.

The NCPG estimates the annual social cost of gambling to be $7bn, with approximately 7 million Americans struggling with this type of addiction.

US operators do have to pay 0.25% of all wagers to the federal government as a sports excise tax, which added up to about $235m in 2022. None of this money currently goes towards problem gambling services, however. A new proposal in Congress aims to change that, directing half of all this revenue to these types of programs – a welcome change for those concerned with problem gambling issues and one that will bring the country more in line with the UK.

Mass self-exclusion

One of the biggest changes that the US sector could make is introducing a countrywide mass self-exclusion program. All UKGC-licensed platforms have to be a part of GAMSTOP, which allows a person to instantly exclude themselves from any gambling sites. This is a non-reversible ban and can remain in place anywhere from six months to five years.

Addicts in Nevada and Colorado have to block themselves from each individual operator

It is extremely easy to do, with the GAMSTOP website allowing you to exclude in just minutes. While certain US states run self-exclusion programs, as do individual operators, these often aren’t wide-ranging enough. Addicts in Nevada and Colorado have to block themselves from each individual operator rather than doing this all in one go.

Someone who is on a ban list in one state can also usually go into a neighboring jurisdiction and continue betting. A nationwide self-exclusion program covering all licensed platforms would solve this issue, although this would likely require an intervention from the US Congress.

Restricting advertising

It’s difficult to turn on a sports broadcast these days in US and not see pro-gambling messages. A big area of focus in the UK is restricting the prevalence of these messages during live events.

While field-side advertising hoardings displaying sportsbook logos are still permitted, a ban is on the way that will prevent English Premier League soccer teams from having gambling sponsors on the front of their shirts from the start of the 2026/2027 season. Celebrities and athletes also cannot promote gambling companies if they might strongly appeal to younger people.

A “whistle-to-whistle” ban is already in place that prohibits gambling ads five minutes before the start of a sporting event and up to five minutes after its conclusion when the fixture is taking place before 9pm. Proponents of this action deemed it likelier that more children will watch sporting events during the day rather than later at night.

broadcasts are filled with segments talking about the best bets to make

Current US sports broadcasts are filled with segments talking about the best bets to make, in addition to ads promoting sportsbooks. During the recent Super Bowl, the most-watched television broadcast every year in the country, several operators ran ads promoting their offerings, costing about $7m for just 30 seconds of footage.

Introducing a similar type of “whistle-to-whistle” ban in the US could go a long way to protecting younger people from a constant bombardment of pro-gambling messaging when watching their favorite sports.

Payment restrictions

In April 2020, the UKGC banned gamblers from using debt-accumulating payment methods like credit cards to fund their accounts. Proponents argued customers should only spend money they have rather than going into the red, racking up thousands of pounds of debt. The results are positive so far, with the regulator not seeing any uptick in illegal money lending or people moving to black market sites.

could help prevent people from spending more than they should

While a few US states like Massachusetts have a similar ban in place, this is not the case for the most part. Making this change could help prevent people from spending more than they should.

Affordability checks are a hot topic in the UK at the moment too, with the white paper calling for even stricter thresholds. Operators monitor the account activity of users and take action if they are displaying certain high-risk markers. Platforms will curtail betting until the person can show that they can afford their level of expenditure.

The UK authorities are looking to get even more aggressive with this monitoring, proposing a check if a person has a net loss of over £125 ($160) in a month or £500 ($641) in a year. While this might be a bit extreme for US operators, having state regulators put more responsibility on operators to look out for suspicious behavior could help people who are struggling to control themselves.

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Master The Cards: How To Play Mini Baccarat And Win

Master The Cards: How To Play Mini Baccarat And Win

In this Mini Baccarat game guide, you’ll learn how to play Mini Baccarat and get an overview of strategies. I also explain the transition from the antiquated rules of traditional baccarat to the more accessible, fast-paced, and simplified rules of the modern game.

Mini Baccarat Rules: How Do You Win At Mini Baccarat?

In Mini Baccarat, you bet your money on whether the Player’s hand or the Banker’s hand will win, or if they will Tie. You win if you’ve predicted the correct outcome at the conclusion of the game.

The winning hand must have a higher total card value of up to 9 points. In Mini Baccarat, 9 is the highest possible score.

The score of a winning hand can be any value i.e. 1 through to 9 over the losing hand’s score 0 through to 8.

Examples of winning Mini Baccarat hands:

  • The Banker’s hand wins over the Player’s hand with the following score: 1-0
  • The Player’s hand wins over the Banker’s hand with the following score: 9-8

A winning hand over a losing hand is any of the following nine combinations: 9-8, 8-7, 7-6, 6-5, 5-4, 4-3, 3-2, 2-1, 1-0.

You can also win a bet on a Tie outcome when the final total card values of both hands result in one of Ten draws: 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9. 

You can bet on any Tie occurring with payout odds of 8 to 1. The house edge is steep at 14.36% (stats based on eight decks).

How Are Mini Baccarat Outcomes Decided?

Banker or Player winning sides:

As per the drawing rules for baccarat, the dealer will deal two sets of two cards each for Banker and Player hands.

The side that is recorded as the winning outcome would have a total hand value of 9 (the highest possible total value), or a score closest to 9 yet still beating the other hand’s total value.

Tie outcomes:

Once all cards for each side have been drawn, if both hands share the same value (0 to 9), the winning outcome will be declared a Tie.

When the first two cards are drawn for each hand, there may be an expectation of a win upon the disclosure of a high value first card. However, this can be cancelled to a zero score when the second card is revealed, and both cards added together equal 0.

There are five possible zero outcomes involving card values 1 through to 9 as follows:

  • 5+5=0
  • 6+4=0
  • 7+3=0
  • 8+2=0
  • 9+1=0

After the first two cards have been drawn for each hand and the scores of both hands add up to 0-0, two further cards are drawn; one for each hand. And this will conclude the outcome of the game.

If zero cards are drawn for each of the hands – i.e. 10s and picture cards J, Q, K, the result will end in a Tie outcome.

Third Card Drawing Rules In Mini Baccarat

As in the above example, after two sets of two cards for each of the hands have been drawn, the dealer may draw one further card for one hand, or for both hands – depending on the total value of each hand. You can refer to the hand chart on this how to play baccarat article if you want to learn the drawing rules.

What To Do After A Tie Outcome

In the event of a Tie outcome, normally when playing online the initial stakes on Banker or Player are returned to the bettor in a process referred to as ‘a push’ bet.

If you’re playing in a land-based casino, push bets are not physically returned to players. Therefore your options are as follows:

  • Leave your chips on the hand you last bet on (before the Tie result) to function as a bet for the next game.
  • Move your chips onto the other hand for the next game or bet them on another Tie occurring.
  • Remove your chips to skip one or more games. Or when taking the time to decide what to bet on before the next game begins.

It’s worth noting that some land-based casinos only allow Tie betting if either Banker or Player is also bet on, whereas many online casinos allow Tie betting regardless.

Value Of Cards In Mini Baccarat

  • An Ace card is worth 1 point
  • Cards numbered 2 through to 9 function as their face value
  • The value of 10s and picture cards J, Q, K each equal 0

To work out the total value of any hand when two or three cards have been drawn, just ignore the tens and picture cards that function as zeros, unless of course the total value of a hand results in a zero.

Zero value hands are losing ones, except when the opposing hand also results in a zero. In such situations the hand outcome will be a Tie.

In Mini Baccarat, the Player’s hand is revealed first.

Examples of how to add up the points in Mini Baccarat:

Example 1:

  • P’s first two cards: 7+4=1 (not 11, because the first digit 1 is dropped)
  • B’s first two cards: J+5=5 (The 10 of the Jack picture card is ignored)
  • P’s 3rd card is 7 so P’s total score = 8
  • B’s 3rd card is 5 so B’s total score = 0
  • And so, Player wins the round with 8 points.

Example 2:

  • P: 9+7=6
  • B: 6+A=7 (Ace is worth 1 point)
  • No third cards are required. Banker wins the round with 7 points.

Example 3:

  • P: A+9=0
  • B: A+7=8
  • No third cards are required. Banker wins the round with 8 points.

Example 4:

  • P: 8+9=7
  • B’s first two cards: 8+2=0
  • B draws a third card which is K, total value of points = 0
  • Player wins the round with 7 points.

Example 5:

  • P’s first two cards: 3+2=5
  • B’s first two cards: 9+4=3
  • P’s third card is 6 so P’s total score = 1
  • B’s third card is 9 so B’s total score =2
  • Banker wins the round with 2 points.

So, you ignore the first digit when seeing double digits, i.e. a 10 or picture card is worth =0, 11=1, 12=2, 13=3, 14=4, 15=5, 16=6, 17=7, 18=8, 19=9, 20=0, 21=1 and so on… up to 30=0

With each set of the first two cards, just because one of the cards might be an 8 or 9, this is not an automatic win. The other card in the hand can cause the total value to be low.

For instance, 9+2=1 and 8+4=2.

So, if you see an 8 or 9 on one of the first two cards in any hand, you should hope for a zero value card to be next because this will seal the hand as a Natural.

Mini Baccarat Strategy

Okay, you’re not going to alter the house edge: Banker bet is 1.06% and 1.24% on the Player bet (stats based on 8 decks).

But it’s possible that a good method for selecting Banker or Player bets – along with a good staking strategy – could enhance your prospects of increasing your bankroll within an average Mini Baccarat gambling session.

Payout odds are not 1 for 1 on Banker wins because of the 5% commission. But they’re 100% even-money payouts for Player wins.

What do baccarat heads say the best strategy is?

You can read thousands of articles telling you that betting on the Banker is the best strategy.

Take any advice to ‘always bet on the Banker side’ with a pinch of salt. Do your own research and assess the facts.

Bear in mind the following about Banker only bets:

  • The 5% commission on every Banker win will eat into your bankroll gradually. For instance, the commission deducted for just 20 Banker wins is the equivalent to 1 staking unit.

Banker hands don’t dominate every Baccarat shoe! But even when they do:

  • Due to the drawing rules, the Banker side only has a slight advantage over the Player side: Probability of a Banker hand win is 45.9% vs. 44.6% for a Player hand win (stats based on 8 decks).
  • Within one shoe consisting of 80 outcomes, on average the Banker may have around a 4 hand advantage. But this is not true in every shoe. It really depends on the shuffle.

Those 416 shuffled cards secured inside a shoe, most to be used in Mini Baccarat rounds, is key to how results will play out.

Baccarat Game History

To understand why Mini Baccarat was developed, we should look at the structure and history of traditional baccarat games. And these consist of two main variants, namely:

  1. Baccarat en Banque (also known as Baccarat à Deux Tableaux), which is the older form of baccarat.
  2. Baccarat chemin de fer. A later variant.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the invitation requirements to gamble on traditional baccarat, and the rules of the game, were long-winded. For instance, who could play baccarat was determined by a person’s class and/or status in society, and once allowed to play, there were tedious game procedures to decide on, such as:

  • When bettors can place wagers
  • On what side bettors can bet on i.e. on Banker or Player hands
  • Whether cards should be drawn in some games

Evolution of Baccarat Variants

The journey to modernize the game saw the introduction of a variant of baccarat called Punto Banco (Punto=Player & Banco=Banker).

This game was formed in the 1950s in Argentina. Punto Banco spread to casinos in Cuba and then in America.

Thereafter the following variations were invented:

  • Big Baccarat
  • Midi Baccarat
  • Mini Baccarat

The central idea of modern day baccarat makes it easy to bet on either side.

Those gambling on baccarat need only bet Player or Banker. The dealer manages the rest pertaining to the drawing rules. So, baccarat games, especially Mini Baccarat games, progress quickly.

Today, there’s at least 20 variants of baccarat. Mini Baccarat being one of the most popular.

In the 21st century, the rules and procedures of old style baccarat don’t resonate with casino goers. So online, you’re only likely to come across modern versions of baccarat.

Gamblers can still find simplified forms of the old style baccarat games in land-based casinos. Though generally, such games are only available to high rollers or VIPs and played in exclusive gaming rooms.

Table layouts for these traditional baccarat variants differ to modern games like Mini Baccarat. For instance, in some old style baccarat games, two tables, one each side of the dealer, are used to seat up to 16 players.

A Mini Baccarat table seats a cozy seven players.

Mini Baccarat vs Baccarat: Why Mini Baccarat Is The Best Game        

Let’s consider Mini Baccarat vs. traditional baccarat. What’s the best type of baccarat game to play?

Look out for Mini Baccarat because:

  • Games are fast
  • Rules non-complex
  • Minimum stakes are low
  • Table size is smaller than traditional baccarat

If you enjoy staking money in online casino games with even-money payouts (and close to 1 for 1 paying odds when it comes to winning on Banker bets), then Mini Baccarat games are an excellent choice for beginners or system players.

Baccarat system players also love to play Mini Baccarat because the outcome of hands conclude swiftly, especially when playing in an online casino.

You don’t need deep pockets to gamble on a live Mini Baccarat game in online casinos either, since minimum stakes are super low.

Lead image credit: BachelorVegas.com

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Australia’s Financial Crime Watchdog Investigating Bet365

bet365 logo on phone

The financial crimes watchdog in Australia has started an investigation into Bet365 regarding possible counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering (AML) failings. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) ensures that companies have proper compliance systems in place to prevent people from funneling the proceeds of crime through banks and gambling platforms.

requested an external audit of the UK-based Bet365 back in 2022

AUSTRAC originally requested an external audit of the UK-based Bet365 back in 2022; it has done similar for its rivals Sportsbet and Entain. The latter runs the Ladbrokes and Neds brands in the country and is waiting to hear back about the results of its investigation.

Bet365 got KPMG on board to look into its processes and send the report to AUSTRAC. The watchdog now wants to conduct its own deeper investigation of the operator.

AUSTRAC CEO Brendan Thomas said companies that do not have proper controls in place make themselves “vulnerable to exploitation by criminals.”

Any companies that don’t have these systems up to scratch face hefty penalties and potential regulatory action. SkyCity is currently facing a fine of AU$73m (US$48m) for similar types of failings.

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