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Bonuses to be considered in white paper consultation

| By Richard Mulligan
Ensuring incentives such as bonuses and free bets are socially responsible will be among the areas covered in the next round of gambling white paper consultations in the UK.

Mandy Gill, director of compliance at the Gambling Commission, outlined the next tranche of Gambling Act white paper consultations in an address to the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA) Social Responsibility Exchange earlier this week.

Mandy Gill

Gill gave an update on the most recent round of consultations, which concluded earlier this month. She then discussed the next round of dialogue with the industry.

Representatives will be asked to enter submissions regarding socially responsible incentives, gambling management tools and regulatory returns.

Gill said socially responsible incentives should “ensur[e] that incentives like bonuses and free bets are constructed in a socially responsible manner that does not exacerbate the risk of harm”. Deliberations over gambling management tools will include whether it is appropriate to make online deposit limits mandatory or opt-out rather than opt-in.

Finally, with regulatory returns, Gill said the Commission will consult on increasing the frequency of regulatory returns and removing a significant number of items that are out of date or not useful.

“We’ll continue to engage and continue to listen to responses to all of our consultations,” she added. “We’ll also continue our work to make gambling safer, fairer and crime free and I thank you all for your assistance and support with this.”

Gill also said the Commission has begun some pre-consultation engagement with industry on its own review of the Gaming Machine Technical Standards that will include an assessment of the role of session limits across Category B and C machines and the role of other safer gambling measures and tools – such as those included within BACTA’s Responsible Game Design Code of Conduct.

Total of 3,000 submissions during first consultation

Discussing the first round of consultations that recently ended, Gill said that more than 3,000 submissions were made in total. The topics covered were financial vulnerability checks and financial risk assessments, cross selling and direct marketing, removing features which increase intensity of play on non-slots casino games online and age verification in premises.

Gill emphasised to her audience of land-based gambling representatives that financial vulnerability checks and financial risk assessments will not extend to land-based premises. However, she gave delegates an update on the areas that would affect them.

She said: “Cross selling and direct marketing in land-based premises may not be as prevalent as online operators, but our proposal was to explore improving marketing preferences for all gambling customers.

“Secondly on age verification in premises… land-based operators do a good job of verifying that customers are old enough to be allowed to gamble. This consultation asked about increasing the age in which we considered it good practice for staff to challenge customers to verify their age from 21 to 25, bringing this challenge in line with other products such as tobacco and alcohol.

“So, should the changes suggested in the consultation or similar changes to those be introduced once we have reviewed the consultation submissions, this would be another key consideration for the sector.”

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