Last week, a suggestion was made for UK gamblers to be required to provide payslips to prevent them from suffering losses they cannot afford. This could be one of the major changes of the 2005 Gambling Act in the upcoming year.
In other news, the government decided to further postpone the overhaul of the Gambling Act for next spring. This raised the concerns of some campaigners who were worried about the increasing gambling-related harms among vulnerable individuals in the UK.
Meanwhile, to continue its work on stricter regulation of the gambling industry, last week, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) took some regulatory actions against Buzz Group Ltd. The company was required to pay a fine of £780,000 due to anti-money laundering and social responsibility failures.
UK Gamblers May Have to Provide Payslips to Proof They Can Afford Their Losses
As the UK government is planning a revision of the 2005 Gambling Act, one of the new measures that may be introduced will require gamblers to provide payslips. This measure was suggested as a tool that will help prevent gambling addiction and other gambling-related harms.
A series of new measures that will tackle such issues and will impose more vigorous regulations was introduced by Chris Philip, who took the position of gambling minister a few months ago. Andrew Rhodes, head of the UKGC, also supported the propositions presented by Mr Philip, noting that some operators have failed to comply with the rules set by the regulator. This was the reason why they were required to pay regulatory fines that were paid in the form of “tax”.
Mr Philip shared to have been witnessing too many cases of gamblers spending way more than they can afford. He reported that a white paper introducing all government proposals will be published at the beginning of next year. He said that one of the possible proposals includes affordability checks that will require operators to take additional steps rather than taking actions only when it is “far too late”.
The gambling minister acknowledged that obligatory affordability checks on every gambler who spends over £100 may not be approved but he noted that taking such measures at certain levels is appropriate. He also added that it is crucial for operators to cooperate by providing data that shows signs of gambling addiction among players and bettors.
Campaigners Worried due to Announcement of Gambling Act Review Being Postponed for Next Year
Following the announcement that the government’s proposals for the Gambling Act review were postponed for the upcoming spring, many campaigners warned about the possible harm the delay could cause. According to them, pushing further the revision of the UK gambling laws may lead to more cases of gambling harm and even suicide.
Back in 2019, the Conservative party promised to review the 2005 Gambling Act and improve the way the UK gambling industry is regulated. A white paper with proposals for amendments in the law was due to be published by the end of 2020. Due to the global pandemic, however, the deadline was postponed to the end of 2021. Now, with the white paper being delayed for next spring, there are many concerns about the consequences of the further postponement.
Campaigners such as Liz Ritchie, co-founder of the charity Gambling With Lives, warned that every day the government is delaying the review of the Gambling Act might mean more lives lost due to gambling-related harms.
The appointment of a new gambling minister is one of the reasons that led to the delay of the review. While the former minister John Whittingdale was known for opposing stronger gambling regulations, Chris Philip, who took his position in September, shows a different attitude towards stricter regulating measures.
Another reason for the postponed white paper is the change of personnel in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). There is also the upcoming decision of whether the current monopoly over the National Lottery will finally be broken, giving the operational license to a brand new operator.
UKGC Issues Regulatory Fine to Buzz Group Ltd Due to Operational Failings
Last week, the UKGC took some regulatory actions against Buzz Group Ltd, which operates buzzingo.com. The company was required to pay a fine of £780,000 after the regulatory body revealed social responsibility and anti-money laundering failings in Buzz Group’s operations.
In addition to imposing a regulatory fine, the Commission also issued an official warning due to Buzz Group’s failures that took place between October 2019 and December 2020. Some of the social responsibility missings of the operator include a customer being allowed to deposit a total of £22,400 in just five days, without any significant interaction being made between the operator and the said customer. The operator also used systems that could not recognize players who are at risk and did not take any measures to check up on customers who have shown aggressive gambling patterns over short periods of time.
Anti-money laundering failures were associated with customer support not implementing the proper source of funds (SOF) checks. There was also a case of the operator accepting a large win of a customer as their SOF for future gambling, neglecting the possibility of the money being collected through a crime rather than simply being recycled winnings. The operator had multiple cases of recording insufficient data of interactions with customers about AML. What is more, the operator was often vague about the information shared during these interactions.
The actions taken against Buzz Group Ltd were a part of the UKGC ongoing investigations of operators and the way they conduct their operations in the UK gambling sector.