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White paper consultations continue with bonuses and penalties

| By Marese O'Hagan
Tim Miller, executive director of research and policy at the GB Gambling Commission, has outlined plans for the next set of Gambling Act Review white paper consultations.

This round of consultations will include bonuses and free bets – more specifically, ensuring that they are socially responsible.

“We will consult on proposals relating to incentives such as free bets and bonuses, to make sure they do not encourage harmful or excessive gambling,” Miller continued.

These consultations come as a result of the Gambling Act review white paper. The white paper made proposals on how gambling should be regulated in the UK going forward. These are based on a governmental review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Another headline topic for consultation is financial penalties. Miller wrote that the Commission is proposing changes to how penalties are calculated. He added this will “seek to bring greater clarity and transparency to the way we calculate such penalties”.

“This will include measures to ensure that penalties are set at a level where the costs of non-compliance outweigh the costs of compliance.”

Consulting on the statutory levy

The consultation will also include customer-led tools, transparency of protection for customer funds and the requirement to make annual contributions to Research, Prevention and Treatment (RET).

On the latter, Miller said the Commission will consult on “removing the existing requirement to contribute to a set list of research, prevention and treatment bodies in the context of government proposals to introduce a statutory levy in the future”.

Last month Ian Angus, the Commission’s director of policy, said he expected the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to launch a consultation on the statutory levy “soon”.

The final two topics in this round of consultations are regulatory data and financial key event reporting. Miller concluded that the Commission’s work on the Gambling Act review proposals is related to its day-to-day work regulating the industry.

“We are rightly putting emphasis on implementing the government’s Gambling Act review recommendations,” he wrote. “This goes hand in hand with our vital regulatory ‘business as usual’, to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free.”

“Considerable progress”

Miller made the comments in a blog post on the Commission’s website. He said that since the white paper was released, the Commission’s focus on rolling out the recommendations had seen it make “considerable progress”.

Miller said the Commission intends to consult on seven topics over 12 weeks. He added that this is set to close in February or March.

“Our forthcoming consultations will continue to fulfil our aim to progress white paper recommendations at pace, but also address other aspects of our regulation to make us fit for the future,” he wrote.

First round of consultations

In total, the white paper outlined more than 60 different areas for the Commission to work on. In May, Miller said the Commission has “very little space” to consider non-white paper related policies in the years ahead.

The first round of consultations opened in July and closed in October. Earlier this month, Mandy Gill, director of compliance at the Commission, said over 3,000 submissions were made in total. Miller wrote that the Commission had received “broad engagement” on the first consultation round. He added that the regulator is “currently analysing the responses”.

This first round focused on financial risk and vulnerability checks – also known as affordability checks – online games design, direct marketing and cross selling and age verification on premises.

Affordability checks have been one of the more controversial aspects of the white paper for the industry. Earlier this month, Nevin Truesdale, CEO of The Jockey Club started an online petition against affordability checks. At time of writing it has received over 84,000 signatures.

Labour Party peer and chair of Premier Greyhound Racing, Lord Lipsey, also recently spoke out against affordability checks. He argued that it would damage greyhound racing.

In October, Commission CEO Andrew Rhodes hit out at “misinformation” surrounding affordability checks. Rhodes reiterated this point last week, dismissing arguments that affordability checks would drive customers towards the black market.

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