The white paper – Proposals to update UK gambling legislation (IV)

Continuation of the previous article

By Dan Iliovici, Vice-President ROMBET

We continue to publish extensive extracts from an important project subject to public debate by the British Government, the so-called White Paper.

Benefits of gambling

Gambling can be sociable, can help tackle loneliness and isolation, can enhance the enjoyment of other activities, and can be a valuable pastime in its own right, although quantifying these benefits is inherently difficult.

There are also economic benefits to having a well regulated industry to service this demand.

The gambling sector also contributes significantly to other industries, including sport, advertising and racing. (…)

Gambling can also contribute to tourism, for instance to seaside towns across the country, or high-end casinos attracting wealthy overseas visitors who spend across a number of other sectors while in this country.

Additionally, some gambling products enable charities and other non-commercial organisations such as sports clubs to raise valuable funds. ”

After this clarification, we continue the detailed presentation of the document.

Safer games

● The Gambling Commission will review and consult on updating design rules for online products, building on its recent work on online slots to consider features like speed of play which can exacerbate intensity and risk. Products which are safer by design will help prevent harm at source and reduce the reliance on reactive harm detection systems.

● We propose to introduce a maximum stake limit for online slots games of between £2 and £15, subject to consultation. This would prevent slots play where there is an elevated risk of rapid losses and/or harm, while leaving the majority of customers who play at low stakes unaffected. We will also consult on measures to give greater protections for 18 to 24 year olds who the evidence suggests may be a particularly vulnerable cohort. This will include options of a £2 limit per stake; a £4 limit per stake; or an approach based on individual risk.

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Empowered customers

● Tools like deposit limits can help people gamble within their means, but may be underused and not widely optimised for harm prevention. Informed by insights from behavioural science, the Gambling Commission will explore making these tools mandatory for players to use or opt-out rather than opt-in, as well as other changes to reduce friction and help people gamble safely before any problems arise.

● While GAMSTOP is the principal means of online self-exclusion, we welcome that banks and payment providers offer opt-in gambling transaction blocks. The gambling industry should work with financial service firms to enable the blocks to be extended to other payment methods like bank transfers.

● Online operators use data to identify and restrict accounts in response to suspected fraudulent activity and for commercial reasons (for example customers betting too successfully). It is important that customers are made aware of the circumstances in which such restrictions may be applied and provided with explanations where it does occur. This is consistent with the Commission’s rules for clear and accessible terms and conditions and the regulator will monitor operators’ compliance in this area.

● Operators sometimes put artificial behavioural barriers in the way of consumers doing what they want. Activities such as withdrawing winnings, closing accounts and accessing important information should be made as frictionless as possible. Behavioural barriers and friction should only be used to keep customers safe rather than impede them from taking decisions.

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Changing landscape

● ‘White label’ describes a commercial arrangement whereby a licensee offers remote gambling under a brand provided by a third party which does not itself hold a remote gambling licence. While the risks are not fundamental to such arrangements and licensees are rightly held to account, there have been examples of non-compliance associated with these arrangements. The Gambling Commission will consolidate and reinforce expectations for operators on contracting with third parties, including white labels.

● Prize draws and competitions have been able to grow significantly and advertise widely in the digital age. These competitions, unlike lotteries, are not regulated. This is because they offer a free entry route (for instance via ordinary post) or have a skill-based element. We propose to explore the potential for regulating the largest competitions of this type to introduce appropriate controls around player protection and, where applicable, returns to good causes, and to improve transparency.

(to be continued)

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