Gambling Commission launches consultation on intervention and affordability

The UK Gambling Commission has launched a new consultation to gather opinions on implementing tougher rules for intervention and affordability checks.

On Tuesday, the UK Gambling Commission announced the beginning of its latest public consultation which seeks to gather evidence and opinions to help form “stronger requirements” regarding how operators identify and interact with high-risk customers.

The UK’s regulator will now begin accepting feedback from the gambling industry, consumers and other stakeholders, on proposals for how operators can act on the information they have available about a customer’s vulnerability.

The Commission’s consultation and call for evidence

In its announcement, the Gambling Commission said that while operators already have the ability to identify customers who may be vulnerable, evidence suggests that the industry has not used its capabilities to effectively reduce gambling-related harms.

As a result of this, the Commission proposed that operators should be required to act on the information they have about a customer’s potential vulnerability. The regulatory body also said it aims to have licensees implement stronger requirements, as well as defined affordability checks at thresholds set by the Commission.

The regulator also wants to gauge stakeholder opinions as to what these thresholds for affordability assessments should be, the nature of the checks and how operators are required to protect their customers after an assessment has been carried out.

Although the consultation and call for evidence are open to all stakeholders, the regulator said it will place a particular focus on feedback from consumers.

Tim Miller, executive director of the Gambling Commission, said: “Whilst some operators have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels. They are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risks of potential harm.

“We are clear on the need for gambling companies to take further action and that the Commission must set firm requirements to set consistent standards. But we want to have an open discussion with the gambling industry, consumers, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, to ensure we strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm.”

The UK gambling regulator’s consultation and call for evidence were launched yesterday and will close on 12 January 2021.

Engagement with vulnerable players is in the spotlight

The regulator’s new consultation period comes after it imposed new licence conditions on BGO, GAN and NetBet after identifying several failings in how the operators handled social responsibility and anti-money laundering measures.

As a result of the Commission’s investigation, the three operators agreed to forgo a financial penalty and will instead make payments towards the implementation of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

BGO agreed to pay £2m, GAN agreed to pay £146,000 while NetBet will pay £748,000.

Earlier this year, the Gambling Commission published new advice on how online gambling operators should interact with their customers during the coronavirus pandemic. This advice placed an emphasis on the monitoring of player behaviour and then contacting them to prevent any potential gambling harms.

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