June 7, 2021
Earlier this year, the Commission asked stakeholders about the steps remote operators should be required to take to identify and protect customers at risk of harm. Current requirements place a duty on remote operators to monitor gambling and take action where there is a risk of harm. The Commission has identified in its casework that while remote operators have the ability to interact with those being harmed, they are not always doing so or acting quickly enough.
The Commission asked for feedback about tougher rules to tackle this problem, such as requirements to take action when online operators know a customer is in a vulnerable situation and to put in place some automated solutions. It also called for evidence on the spending, time and other thresholds at which checks or action should be taken.
The proposals only applied to gambling online, not on tracks or in gambling premises.
The Commission received approximately 13,000 responses (1,000 responses to the full consultation and call for evidence, and 12,000 to the short survey) and has been analysing the evidence. Having considered the responses, the Commission has now published an update on its progress.
The Commission has found that many people think there should be protections in place for the most vulnerable and that there should be appropriate checks to identify and prevent cases of clearly unaffordable gambling. Many respondents emphasised that measures should be proportionate and targeted at those at risk of harm. At the same time, customers were also concerned about privacy and freedom of choice.
The Commission has concluded that “stronger requirements” are needed for operators to identify a range of indicators of harm and take appropriate action more often and at an earlier stage. From its casework and evidence on financial spend, the Commission has identified three key risks that it is prioritising for action:
- significant losses in a very short time: cases where customers have been able to spend many thousands of pounds in short periods, including minutes, without any checks are relatively rare but have very significant impacts on the consumers affected;
- significant losses over time: cases where customers have significant losses over a period of time without sufficient assessment of whether they are being harmed are experienced by a relatively small proportion of customers but it is appropriate to require checks for these customers; and
- financial vulnerability: information is available that shows when customers are particularly financially vulnerable and likely to be harmed by their level of gambling.
The Commission’s next steps will be to:
- publish a full response this summer setting out its detailed actions on the areas on which it previously put forward proposals for consultation, including the requirement to take action where customers are known to be in a vulnerable situation, the requirement to take action in a timely manner, and in some cases for that action to be automated; the Commission will also proceed as planned with a consultation on thresholds for operators to take action and guidance on what those actions should be;
- continue to work closely with DCMS to feed in advice and evidence to the Government’s Gambling Act Review, recognising that broader public policy questions about how to protect people from harm will be considered as part of the Review;
- continue to engage with consumers, the financial sector and the gambling industry on the information about customers that should be available to gambling businesses; and
- continue its broader programme of work to support the prevention of harm, including working to ensure that existing tools for setting deposit limits are used more widely and effectively.
The Commission says that it will provide further updates when the next consultation launches. To read the Commission’s update in full, click here.