Regulation

GC launches consultation on affordability and intervention

| By Robert Fletcher
Great Britain’s Gambling Commission has launched a new consultation to gather opinion on introducing stronger requirements for online operators to identify customers at risk of gambling-related harm.

Launching today (3 November), the consultation will call for feedback from the industry, consumers and other stakeholders on proposals to strengthen how operators act on information they have about a consumer’s vulnerability.

The Commission said while operators already have the capability of identifying customers who may be harmed by gambling, evidence suggests the industry has not used this sufficiently to reduce harms. It is therefore keen to gather feedback on how to improve these processes.

As such, the regulator has proposed that operators should be required to act on the information they have about a consumer’s potential vulnerability. The Commission also aims to have licensees introduce stronger requirements, including defined affordability assessments at thresholds set by the regulator.

It is looking to gather stakeholder opinion on what these thresholds for the affordability assessments should be, as well as the nature of these checks and how operators are required to protect consumers after an assessment.

Though the consultation will is open to all stakeholders, the Commission said it will place a particular focus on consumers. It wants to gauge how operators should identify vulnerability, as well as gambling that is unaffordable, and the circumstances when to take action on behalf of consumers.

“We are clear on the need for gambling companies to take further action and that the Commission must set firm requirements to set consistent standards,” Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller said.

“But we want to have an open discussion with the gambling industry, consumers, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, to ensure we strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm.”

The consultation will begin today and run through until 12 January next year.

Earlier this year, the Commission published new advice on how operators should interact with customers during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This included a stronger focus on monitoring players behaviour and contacting them if necessary to prevent gambling harm.

The new consultation comes after the Gambling Commission last month added a new conditions to licences held by BGO, GAN and NetBet, after identifying failings in their social responsibility and anti-money laundering controls.

The rulings, which followed investigations into each business, saw BGO also agree to pay £2m (€2.2m/$2.6m) towards the implementation of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

GAN also agreed to a £146,000 payment, while NetBet will pay £748,000.

Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter