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GC joint chief reveals current focus on “clearly unaffordable” losses

| By Marese O'Hagan
Acting joint chief executive of the British Gambling Commission Sarah Gardner has announced that the Commission’s “immediate action” will be to stop players from gambling “clearly unaffordable” amounts.
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Speaking at the Financial Vulnerability Summit 2021, Gardner suggested that the regulators work on a review into remote customer interaction may focus on higher losses, rather than implementing checks for spend at lower levels.

“Our immediate action will be focussed on preventing the types of cases we still see too much of in our casework,” said Gardner.

“In particular this will tackle where operators have allowed people to gamble amounts that are clearly unaffordable, with very limited or no customer interaction until a very late stage.”

Gardner cited a casework example from the 2020 Compliance and Enforcement Report, where an online casino customer accumulated losses of £16,500 in 7 hours and was only contacted by the operator to confirm a payment from a new card.

Last year the Commission launched a review into remote customer interaction, which included a proposal to implement affordability checks from operators after a customer has spent a certain amount.

Earlier this month the Commission addressed reports that the remote customer interaction review would be brought under the government’s Gambling Act review rather than implemented directly, but did not reveal whether the reports were accurate.

Garner also said that it was very important that action to limit gambling harm came from sectors beyond the gambling industry itself, and said major progress has been made in this area lately.

“Just a few years ago there was very little support for customers from their banks to help protect from gambling harm,” she said.

“Now 90% of debit cards have gambling blocker options for customers.”

In addition, Gardner outlined the Commission’s three-year corporate strategy, which was published in April. It will focus on five objectives- protecting children and vulnerable people from gambling harms, creating a fairer market and informing consumers, keeping crime out of gambling, ensuring that returns from the National Lottery go to good causes, and improving gambling regulation.

Gardner also announced that the Commission is working with the Information Commissioner’s Office to keep consumer’s data secure.