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The Gambling Commission (the “Commission“) has published its response to its Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards (“RTS“) consultation.

The consultation response generally sets out amendments to the existing RTS that seek to ensure consumers are provided with sufficient information to make informed choices about their gambling activity, and stems from part of the Commission’s overall strategy to increase transparency and clarity to “put consumers at the heart of the businesses”[1].

What is changing?

1. Gambling and account history

Some of the notable changes to the existing RTS include a more prescriptive approach to the availability and transparency of a customer’s account and session history. Whilst implementation guidance under the existing RTS specifies that information should be available to consumers, it does not prescribe that consumers are able to access historic transactions of a specific period of time. The Commission will now require that consumers have immediate access to three months’ history without having to contact the licensee, with a minimum of 12 months available upon request and provided as soon as is practicable. The ability for the consumer to do so must also be communicated clearly.

The information to be included in gambling and account history remains unchanged; however, the updated RTS will require licensees to calculate and display the win/loss total for the selected time period (as chosen by the consumer), either on the same page or across multiple pages with the win/loss total for the defined period to be provided on the first page. Moreover, the Commission will expect licensees to make clear whether funds stake constitute a bonus or a free bet.

In addition, licensees will now be required to make details of ‘net deposits’ (the running total of all deposits minus the sum of withdrawals for the lifetime of the account) available to consumers.

The above changes enter into force on the latest set date on the implementation timetable at 1 April 2018, with the time constraints to implement these requirements likely to have been one of the key concerns raised during the consultation period.

2. Display of transactions

 (a) Display the currency value of each stake

The Commission will introduce a requirement that the currency value of each transaction be displayed to the customer. Where games offer the customer the choice to change the display into a non-currency format, the default option presented must be the currency value.

(b) Betting price fluctuation

The requirement that customers must be given the choice as to whether to accept price movements in either direction will be introduced, and must be on a per bet basis except where a customer has requested a default account setting to disable price change alerts prior to bet acceptance. Where this account functionality exists, the default position should not be set to accept all fluctuations.

As with gambling and account history requirement changes, the implementation date for these new requirements is 1 April 2018.

3. Other changes

Other changes include (i) detailed information on peer-to-poker poker; (ii) a number of clarifications to existing requirements including the definition of restricted display devices, (iii) alterations to the current progressive jackpot standards; and (v) amendments to incorporate existing requirements already in force such as the live return to player (RTP) monitoring which came into force on 1 September 2016 as part of testing strategy updates.

When?

The first of the requirements will come into force with immediate effect, although these largely involve incorporating existing requirements. Two additional implementation dates are set for 1 October 2017 and 1 April 2018.

The consultation response is available here. The revised technical standards will be published separately at the end of June.

[1] Sarah Harrison, CEO, Gambling Commission