UK’s Gambling Regulator Unveils New Guidance to Help Combat Problem Gambling

UK’s Gambling Regulator Unveils New Guidance to Help Combat Problem Gambling

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) updated its new list of rules on high-risk gamblers. The updated operator guidelines will be officially introduced on September 12 this year as part of the regulator’s efforts to fight gambling addiction. The new measures complement the regulator’s previous instructions released in April.

The UKGC Prescribed an Increased Focus on “At-Risk Customers”

The main goal of the new policy is to protect clients at risk of gambling-related harm. Operators will need to identify vulnerable customers and monitor various indicators of harm. These can include more general factors such as age, health, literacy, and financial status, but the commission urged operators to focus on a more personalized and in-depth approach. Recommendations include increased customer interaction based on open-source data, which goes beyond merely setting general deposit or loss thresholds. 

According to the regulator, current customer protections are often inadequate, which has resulted in harmful gambling interactions. The operators were too slow to identify customers who were spending more than they could afford, which led to cases where people would lose funds reserved for necessities such as rent or bills. 

Another point in the Gambling Commission’s new list of recommendations is the segregation of gambling activities according to their risk level. Operators will need to record problem gambling rates for each gambling activity and increase customer interactions accordingly. Licensees will be required to track these metrics on a month-to-month basis. Once an “at-risk customer” is identified, gambling companies will be required to exempt that person from all marketing and bonus offerings.

Several Operators Received Hefty Fines and Punishments

The new guidelines were released ahead of the UK government’s new gambling reform and marked another step in the regulator’s increasing scrutiny of operators in the country. Andrew Rhodes, chief executive officer of the Gambling Commission, recently announced that the regulator would ramp up its enforcement efforts and that operators needed to follow existing regulations strictly. “We will not be complacent and will clearly set out the standards we expect,” Rhodes remarked and stated that any failings to meet the commission’s standards would result in harsh penalties.

The commission’s warnings have recently resulted in several strict sanctions. Jumpman Gaming and Pragmatic Play failed to meet their license obligations and received fines of £500,000 and £175,718. In a failure to identify an “at-risk” customer, Jumpman saw a player lose £20,000 and took six weeks to discover that the individual could not afford the loss. The UKGC also uncovered ties to terrorist organizations and money-laundering schemes. 

The regulator did not hesitate to go one step further and suspended the license of operator Goldchip for quoted anti-money laundering failings and lacking social responsibility. These steps are a clear message to UK’s gambling companies that the commission will continue to tighten its grip on misbehaving operators regardless of the pending regulatory changes.

Author: Ian Douglas