UKGC Wants Bookmakers to take Novelty Bets Seriously 

UKGC watching Strictly Come Dancing betting markets.

The UKGC has warned operators to be more careful when offering bets on shows such as Strictly Come Dancing. (Image: bbc.co.uk)

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) flexed its regulatory muscle this week after it warned operators to be careful when they offer so-called novelty bets.

Over the last decade the popularity of novelty betting on pre-recorded TV shows has grown immensely and, today, you can speculate on a variety of outcomes via the UK’s top bookmakers.

However, given the potential for rigged votes and betting, the UKGC has issued a warning to all of the bookies under its watch.

UKGC Wants Novelty Bets to be Serious

Responding to media reports that apparently originated from operators, the UKGC essentially told bookmakers to be careful when they’re offering odds on such events.

“As outlined in our statement of principles for licensing and regulation, amongst other things, we expect operating licence holders to conduct their business with integrity, organise and control their affairs responsibly and effectively, and have adequate systems and controls to keep gambling fair and safe,” said the UKGC’s programme director for enforcement and intelligence, Richard Watson.

One of the most infamous incidents in recent years was the 2011 Strictly Coming Dancing betting scandal. This case involved a producer on the show winning £8,000 after betting on Alesha Dixon to win.

Although the show’s integrity didn’t suffer too much from the revelation, it has become part of a much larger framework of scepticism surrounding these types of bets.

Social Media Causing Integrity Issues

According to Watson, the rise of social media is one of the reasons bookmakers need to be careful with bets on pre-recorded shows. A mistimed tweet or seemingly innocuous Facebook post by someone involved in the show can easily signal the result of an aired vote.

When this happens it not only affects the integrity of the show, but it puts bookmakers at risk. Indeed, if certain people are privy to inside information and use this to make money from novelty bets, the whole industry takes a hit.

With this in mind, the UKGC will now be monitoring novelty betting markets across the UK and has pledged to take appropriate action against any bookmaker that doesn’t properly protect itself, consumers or the integrity of the event punters can speculate on.

“If we become aware that these standards are not being met, we will commence licence reviews with a view to exercising our formal regulatory powers,” explained Watson.

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