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UK Gambling Commission Call for Improved Consumer Protection

September is going to be an important month for betting companies that hold a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) licence.

New guidelines for betting companies will be in place that see the consumer protection requirements toughened.

From September 12, there will be a set of new procedures put in place by the UKGC. These are being introduced to ensure that more is done to identify those at risk of gambling harm and to take action to protect them.

Now licence holders will have to ensure that the new requirements are implemented.  When a customer is identified as suffering from gambling harm, then action has to be taken, failure to do so could well end in more fines being issued and perhaps even their licence being taken away from them.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a period when people had a lot more free time at their disposal. The fear of the UKGC was that this would lead to more people gambling online. This led to companies being told not to exploit the situation and to keep a closer eye on those customers showing signs of having gambling problems.

Recent months have seen the UKGC issue large fines worth millions of pounds. 888 received a £9.4 million fine as the Commission found that not enough was being done to protect customers who were having problems with their gambling.

The UKGC want to ensure that those practices continue, even though countries are no longer in lockdown. Andrew Rhodes is the Chief Executive of the UKGC. He says that operators must “take account of this guidance ahead of the stronger requirements coming into effect.”

Rhodes sees the months leading up to September as an important time for the online gambling industry. “We are giving the industry time to prepare for the changes and expect full compliance by September,” he said.

The UKGC have also reminded licence holders not to offer bonuses and promotions in UK casinos to customers identified as having a gambling problem.

At present, the UK Government is reviewing the rather outdated 2005 Gambling Act. An announcement on the changes they want to take place are to be released soon.

The UKGC Chief Executive stressed that every gambling business “has a role to play to prevent gambling harm.” The guidance they have set out “makes clear what we expect to see.” He added that the current cost of living increases being seen in the UK make It “more important than ever” for the gambling industry to “meet these requirements to identify customers at risk of harm.”

Identify, act and evaluate are the three systems and processes that are needed to protect customers. In the past, the UKGC have found that problems have been identified by gambling sites but long delays or no action at all taken to help them.

The UKGC also want to see their licence holders having an effective system/process in place that monitors the activity of their customers. These indicators should be relevant to the customer and the way in which they gamble.

These include how much money a customer has been spending on the site. Patterns of how they carry out their spending need to be monitored and how much time is being spent on the site by them. Observing how customers use the gambling management tools available to them is also important.

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