Marketing Affiliates and Free-to-Play Games

The Gambling Commission has today written to its remote licensees to make it clear that they must ensure that their marketing affiliates adhere to changes on age verification introduced on 7 May 2019 which require that operators ensure that they have age verified an individual before permitting them to access free-to-play games. The Commission is concerned that its licensees may be benefiting from affiliate advertising models which offer free-to-play versions of real money games notwithstanding that the operators would need to age-gate the games on their own websites.

This is the natural extension of LCCP social responsibility code provision 1.1.2 which states that “Licensees are responsible for the actions of third parties with whom they contract for the provision of any aspect of the licensee’s business related to the licensed activities” and that licensees must “require the third party to conduct themselves in so far as they carry out activities on behalf of the licensee as if they were bound by the same licence conditions and subject to the same codes of practice as the licensee.”

Helpfully the Commission has sought to confirm that the new age verification requirements do not apply to other forms of advertising such as screenshots or videos of games which might be available on gambling affiliate websites, as these do not allow interaction by the customer. In addition, the requirements do not apply to B2B suppliers who are offering demo versions of their games in order to sell them to commercial third parties, rather than consumers.

 It will be interesting to see if marketing affiliates are able to justify the cost of introducing age verification processes which would meet the standards required by the Gambling Commission.