SBC News Andrew Rhodes: Third consultation to prioritise land-based reforms, but RET Levy remains with DCMS

Andrew Rhodes: Third consultation to prioritise land-based reforms, but RET Levy remains with DCMS

UK gambling’s land-based venues and stakeholders have been warned to prepare for a summer of changes, adopting new rules to comply with the commitments of the Gambling Review’s White Paper.

Addressing delegates of the Bingo Association AGM – Andrew Rhodes, Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), stressed that the White Paper’s consultation phase will be followed by the Commission swiftly applying changes, impacting all gambling disciplines, whether land-based or online.

The Commission maintains progress on the consultation phase of the White Paper, fulfilling the remit of the UKGC’s new corporate strategy to secure ‘better data and better evidence’ supervising and governing UK gambling activities.

Of significance to land-based stakeholders, Rhodes noted that the White Paper’s third consultation phase will be focused on land-based elements and feedback.

“Later this year and likely this Summer, we will be publishing the next round of consultation responses and then moving forward with a third consultation, this time focusing on land-based sectors entirely. But this work is not operating in a vacuum and so the exact timings will to some extent be dependent on other work elsewhere.”

Rhodes recognised that much scrutiny of the White Paper consultation has been focused on the procedures related to financial risk checks on online customers that have dominated media coverage and interest in how regulatory changes will be applied into law.

Yet, land-based stakeholders were warned of upcoming duties, as the White Paper applies significant changes to how venues interact with customers and manage their licences.

“Whilst many of you have online facing parts of your business as well, for those of you who are primarily or exclusively offering bingo in brick-and-mortar clubs up and down the country, the responses that you should pay most attention to are probably the tightening of age verification, the extension of roles needing personal management licences and changes to direct marketing.”

Land-based stakeholders must prioritise implementing procedures related to mandatory age-verification checks that must be carried out at venues.

On age verification, the White Paper has outlined the Introduction of a legal age limit of 18 for certain gaming machines: protecting children and young people by banning anyone under the age of 18 from playing low stake Category D slot machines that payout cash.

The Commission stands by its procedure to implement changes (land-based and online) via a staggered five-stage-approach undertaken from August 2024 and running through to February 2025. 

Inbound changes saw Rhodes recommend: “change the good practice code to say licensees should have procedures that require their staff to check the age of any customer who appears to be under 25 years of age, rather than under 21 years of age.”

These new elements of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) will come into effect at the end of August 2024, further prioritised as the Commission’s commitment to improving data collection and analysis to enhance regulation. 

New duties applied to licenses on ‘Regulatory Returns’ will include moving from annual to quarterly reporting for all gambling operators starting July 2024. 

Elsewhere, Rhodes noted the concerns of land-based stakeholders with regards to the structure of the UK gambling’s Statutory Levy on gambling harms Research, Treatment and Prevention. 

As proposed by DCMS last October, UK gambling will adopt a 1% levy on gross gambling yield applied to online operators whilst betting shop and small operators will have the levy set at 0.4% GGY.

The commitment to enforcing a Statutory Levy on gambling harm prevention has seen the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) propose the application of a sliding scale’ to protect smaller independent businesses from a higher fixed costs applied by the scheme. 

Rhodes replied that the remit of the Levy design will be determined by DCMS, who is “fully responsible for how this will look and we look forward to seeing their response to this consultation”.

 “When the Government sets out the timetable for the introduction of the Levy everyone will need to pull together to get it established. It will be important to provide certainty for the people up and down the country who rely on those services as well as for the organisations and charities that provide them.”

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