UK Regulator Opens Public Consultation and Calls for Evidence

The Gambling Commission has opened a public consultation on whether new rules should be introduced to force operators to identify consumers who may be at risk of gambling harm.

The Gambling Commission (UKGC) has today asked the public to express their views on proposed new rules which will force operators to identify and interact with customers who are at risk of suffering from gambling-related harm.

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UKGC begins public consultation ©Pixabay.

The consultation calls for feedback on plans that will strengthen the expectations placed on the gambling industry to act on the information they have regarding a customer’s vulnerability. The proposals would also force the operators to perform affordability checks on their customers, with thresholds set by the regulator. In a foreword for the consultation, the UKGC state that gambling operators already have the capability of identifying customers who may be harmed by gambling, adding that their evidence shows that the industry is not using this capability to sufficiently to reduce harms.

The Commission state that they recognise that a balance needs to be struck between consumer freedom and introducing new measures that prevent gambling that would have an adverse financial and health impact on consumers. They add that an operator must understand if a customer is gambling beyond their needs and also to understand the risk of harm if this happens.

The executive director of the UKGC, Tim Miller, 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 UKGC state that this consultation is needed as their casework has shown that the threshold in which gambling companies will contact customers in regards to their excessive gambling is set too high. In regards to the financial threshold that a customer must pass until intervention takes place is often set at tens of thousands of pounds. The Commission also stated that operators are too slow to act and fail to act on intelligence they receive about potential vulnerability.

The Gambling Commission did, however, state that they have seen good examples of actions taken by individual companies and wanted to engage operators to share best practice, allowing them to refine processes over time. The Commission state the aim of the consultation is to better protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling related harms.

The consultation runs for ten weeks until 12 January 2021 and the Commission state they have engaged other regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority. If you wish to participate in the consultation, you can do so by visiting the Gambling Commission website.

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