As the gambling industry in the UK is expecting some changes after the white paper on the 2005 Gambling Act gets published, Andrew Rhodes acknowledged the need for even stricter regulations. In a speech at the 2022 ICE World Regulatory Briefing, Mr Rhodes spoke about the new forms of gambling that have entered the sector and need to be regulated properly so as to not cause additional harm to vulnerable individuals.
During the same event, Deputy Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), Sarah Gardner, also gave a speech on the novelty gambling forms and their growth in the last two years. She also stressed the importance of acknowledging these products and focusing on creating new rules to properly regulate them.
To show the work they have put into protecting vulnerable individuals, last week, the UKGC published a new set of rules concerning at-risk customers. These rules are to be followed by gambling businesses operating in the UK, ensuring better protection for customers who are exposed to the risk of gambling harm.
Novelty Gambling Products and the Need for Stricter Regulation in the UK
During their speeches at the ICE World Regulatory Briefing, both Mr Rhodes and Mrs Gardner focused on the new forms of gambling that have grown exponentially in the last two years. In his speech, Mr Rhodes acknowledged the novelty products in the gambling industry and the lack of regulations on such products.
Even though novel forms of gambling cannot be considered gambling in its traditional form, they can still cause serious harm to customers, especially since they are not regulated. Mr Rhodes admitted that the new technological nature of the gambling industry requires more technologically advanced actions taken by regulators.
Recent data showed that according to the estimates for the gross yield of the gambling industry, customers lose £450 every second while the entire industry’s worth amounted to £14 billion. With online gambling prevailing over land-based gambling even before the global pandemic, it comes as no surprise that the industry has reached such high numbers.
The UKGC has taken serious measures to decrease gambling harm by banning the use of credit cards for gambling purposes, increasing the protection for VIPs, implementing stricter age verification processes, and offering self-exclusion programmes. That said, Rhodes admitted that the things happening beyond the regulated market are more concerning.
Products like NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and synthetic shares have gained extreme popularity in the past few years. These novelty products, however, do not fall under the category of regular gambling, which is why they are not regulated. According to Rhodes, while terms like investments and trading are used when such products are discussed, they do not ensure the standards and security that such terms usually do.
In her speech at the same event, Mrs Gardner also supported the need for more attention to the evolving gambling industry and the novelty products entering the sector. While they fall into different categories, they still pose some serious threats but cannot be regulated as they are not considered traditional gambling.
Mrs Gardner presented the Commission’s plan to strengthen its data which will help the regulator get a better idea of how the gambling market is being regulated and what can be improved. One way to better the data collecting process is by introducing the so-called Single Customer View. This tool is supposed to help improve the protection of vulnerable individuals by making better use of the data that has been collected by operators.
UKGC Publishes New Rules Concerning Actions Taken to Protect Risk Customers
Following the speeches of Rhodes and Gardner, last week, the UKGC published new rules that gambling businesses are required to follow. The new set of rules is concerning the actions operators must take when it comes to protecting customers at high risk of harm.
The new rules that are due to come into effect on 12 September 2022, demand gambling companies abide by several stricter requirements. In order to indicate potential gambling harm, operators must monitor several specific indicators. Those indicators showing potential harm must be flagged and operators must take appropriate actions as soon as possible. Gambling businesses are also required to implement automatic processes concerning strong harm indicators.
Customers at risk of harm must not be exposed to promotional marketing nor should they be allowed to claim new bonuses. Gambling businesses are also required to assess their communication with customers and ensure proper interactions when it comes to problem gambling issues. Operators must provide the required evidence for their interactions with customers to the UKGC when the regulator is doing routine reviews. Not only are operators required to comply with these rules at all times but they also need to make sure that any third-party providers will also follow the new set of rules.