During the early part of the year, the UKGC asked stakeholders about the compulsory steps for operators to identify and safeguard at-risk customers. This led to an aspect of a long-running work program to ensure online gambling was safer and fairer.
A Look at The Issues
Presently, the UKGC, which governs all UK online casinos, has regulations that require remote operators to oversee gambling activities and take action where there is the possibility of harm. In its casework, the UKGC observed that even though remote operators could interact with customers being harmed, they sometimes failed to do so quickly and sometimes don’t. The commission aimed to get feedback regarding stricter regulations to deal with this, like requirements to take appropriate measures when online operators are aware that a customer is in a vulnerable state and provide some automated solutions.
In addition, the commission requested proof on the time, spending, and other thresholds on which action or checks should be carried out. These proposals were only applicable to gambling that takes place online and not in gambling venues or tracks. They are also part of the work being carried out by the commission to enhance customer protection when gambling online. According to the UKGC, it received about 13,000 responses, with 12,000 responding to their short surveys and the others from their call for evidence and full consultation. The commission has been evaluating the evidence and responses from the respondents and has provided an update on their progress and subsequent steps.
They found out that many people believed that there should be protection in place for individuals with the highest level of vulnerability, and the needed checks should be provided to point out and avert cases of unaffordable gambling. Numerous respondents highlighted that measures should be balanced and aimed at those susceptible to harm. Furthermore, customers were worried about freedom of choice and privacy, which the commission takes seriously.
Next Steps to Be Taken by The Commission
The commission aims to achieve the appropriate balance and has opened its ears to concerns about what could be viewed as needless evaluation of money and time used gambling. However, the commission went on to note that it continues to spot numerous failings towards customers in its casework and has to take the required steps to deal with the major risks. Some of these include vulnerable customers facing harm and customers spending thousands of pounds in a short time frame.
The commission concluded that better requirements need to be in place for operators to point out various signs of harm and take the needed action more frequently and earlier before things get bad. According to the evidence and casework on financial spend, the UKGC stated that it found out that there were three major risks it is lining up for immediate action.
- Substantial Losses in a Very Brief Period: Instances where customers have spent thousands of pounds within a brief period without any form of checks. These are not common events, but they significantly impact the affected customers. For instance, a recent case of a customer who lost four thousand pounds within six minutes of signing up.
- Substantial Losses Over Time: Instances where customers have experienced substantial losses over time without adequate evaluation of if they are being harmed. Only a small percentage of customers experience substantial losses over time, and it is right to undergo checks for these customers. The commission stated an example of this scenario in its casework where a customer suffered losses amounting to thirty-five thousand pounds within two months, without adequate checks carried out.
- Financial Vulnerability: Where there is available information that shows when customers are especially financially vulnerable and have the tendency to be harmed by their gambling level, the next steps of the commission will be to:
- Issue a full response this summer listing out its elaborate actions in the aspects which it subsequently places forward consultation proposals, alongside the obligation to take action in areas where it is common for customers to be in a vulnerable situation. The requirement will be to act fast and sometimes to automate the action. The commission also aims to move ahead with a consultation on thresholds where operators will need to take action and direction on those actions.
- Continue to collaborate closely with DCMS to provide evidence and advice to the Government’s Gambling Act Review, and noting that more extensive public questions regarding how to safeguard people from harm will be categorized as an aspect of the review.
- Continue to engage with the financial sector, customers, and the gambling sector and the information pertaining to customers that should be provided to gambling businesses.
- Go ahead with its broader work program to support harm prevention and working to make certain that the tools already available for setting deposit limits are used more effectively and broadly.
The commission promised to provide more updates during the launch of the next consultation and noted that it expects remote operators to meet its present requirements for customer interaction. You can read more about UKGC 3 year corporate strategy which includes much of the information in this report!