New and stricter requirements are coming UK-facing gambling operators’ way as the Gambling Commission has launched a consultation to seek views on tougher rules for its licensees to identify and tackle gambling harm and problem gambling.
The consultation was launched Tuesday morning and calls for views and comments from the online gambling industry, gamblers, and other stakeholders on whether and what stronger requirements should be introduced for UK-licensed operators to identify customers who may be at risk of gambling harm and to interact and take action to prevent any such potential harm.
The Gambling Commission explained that it would expect to receive feedback from a range of involved parties on different proposals that aim to strengthen the expectation on its licensees to act on any information they have about a customer’s vulnerability and to conduct proper assessments of whether a customer can afford to fund their gambling habit at thresholds set by the UK gambling regulator.
The commission further noted that it is seeking evidence on what thresholds for such affordability checks should be implemented and how exactly these checks should be carried out.
As mentioned above, the consultation was launched Tuesday, November 3, and stakeholders will have until January 12, 2021 to submit their comments and views.
Industry Failed to Use Capabilities to Reduce Gambling Harms
The Gambling Commission noted that UK-licensed online gambling operators already have the capability to identify customers who may be at risk of being harmed by their gambling habit and that the regulator’s evidence shows that “the industry has not used this capability sufficiently to reduce harms.”
Gambling Commission Executive Director Tim Miller pointed out that while some of the locally licensed companies “have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels” and are failing to take proper action or to act quickly enough to identify and interact with customers at great risk of gambling harm.
Mr. Miller went on to say that it is now clear the Gambling Commission must “set firm requirements to set consistent standards” and that the regulator wants to have an open discussion with its licensees, their customers and people with lived experience to ensure that the right balance between “allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm” is struck.
News about the agency’s new consultation emerge shortly after it scolded three gambling operators over serious weaknesses in their social responsibility and anti-money laundering practices.
BGO Entertainment, GAN plc, and NetBet Enterprises Limited were the three companies that got chastised by the regulator. All three operators were found to have failed to interact properly with customers who had shown signs of problem gambling and to carefully scrutinize the source of funds customers had used to gamble on their UK-facing websites.
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