Sarah Garnder: UKGC consultation conclusions due this summer

UKGC issues guidance on inbound consumer protection demands

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued new guidance to help operators match new consumer protection requirements that will be introduced as of 12 September.

The guidance follows the Commission’s April update that announced a raft of new procedures ‘ensure online gambling businesses do more to identify and taken action to protect customers at risk of harm’.

Licensed operators must ensure new requirements are implemented to identify vulnerable customers, utilising indicators of harm that must be monitored.

Operators must take into account what is considered a strong indicator of harm; when to use automated systems and processes; and how to evaluate the impact of customer interactions.

The guidance noted that additional practices outlined throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, will still apply and be available for operators to refer to until that aforementioned date.

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, commented: “Operators must take account of this guidance ahead of the stronger requirements coming into effect.

“We are giving the industry time to prepare for the changes and expect full compliance by September.

“Every gambling business has a role to play to prevent gambling harm and this guidance makes clear what we expect to see, which will be supported with enforcement action should we need it.

“In the current context, including the rise in the cost of living, it is more important than ever for operators to meet these requirements to identify customers at risk of harm.”

Under the fresh social responsibility code provisions it is noted that licensees must “implement effective customer interaction systems and processes in a way which minimises the risk of customers experiencing harms associated with gambling”.

These systems and processes, it is added, must embed the three elements of customer interaction, these being identify, act and evaluate, and reflect that customer interaction is an ongoing process.

It is also added that licensed incumbents must have in place effective systems and processes to monitor customer activity, use a range of indicators relevant to their customer and the nature of gambling provided, take appropriate action in a timely manner, and tailor the type of action they take based on the number and level of indicators.

Indicators that must be used to identify harm or potential harm include customer spend, patterns of spend, time spent participating in the activity, gambling behaviour indicators, customer-led contact, use of gambling management tools and account indicators.

Furthermore, licensees are also reminded of the importance of preventing marketing and the take up of new bonus offers where strong indicators of harm have been identified.

They must also implement processes to understand the impact of individual interactions, and take all reasonable steps to evaluate the effectiveness of their overall approach.

The UKGC advises that it will shortly be launching a further consultation on the ways to tackle three key financial risks for consumers of binge gambling, significant unaffordable losses over time, and risks for those who are financially vulnerable.

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