UKGC reviews VIP interaction with new consultation

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has launched a consultation which will review the rules and procedures that are in place for licensed gambling operators when engaging with high-value customers (HVC) and VIP players. 

In launching the review, the Commission said it recognised the exceptional commercial value that VIP customers hold for licensees and the ‘preferential service’ high-value customers receive from operators such as tailored bonuses, gifts and hospitality.

In its statement, however, the UKGC underlined that the incentivisation of VIP players poses two regulatory challenges.

Firstly, it noted, VIP customers are heavily engaged gamblers in terms of frequency, spend, and the manner in which they participate in gambling, with some displaying greater ‘at risk’ characteristics for the commission to monitor 

Secondly, the regulator highlighted the conflicts caused by the ‘disproportionate financial value of HVCs to licensees’, as operators try to balance their regulatory compliance responsibilities with short-term commercial objectives.

“We are concerned that these regulatory challenges have not been consistently met by licensees. This has resulted in repeated instances of gambling-related harm and in some cases, failure to prevent criminal proceeds being spent on gambling,” explained the UKGC.

The consultation will form part of the UKGC’s assessment of new industry safeguards and standards sanctioned by the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) ‘working groups’ in April 2020.

In its new ‘industry action plan’, BGC members have agreed to overhaul operator rules and protocols with regards to VIP engagements by restricting VIP programmes to customers aged 25-plus and enforcing rules that mean all VIP programmes are independently audited with regards to incentives and rewards.

Concluding its statement, the UKGC revealed that consumer feedback collected on the subject matter suggested that ‘regulatory requirements that cover all customers are not being tailored and applied effectively to HVCs’.

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