Law Firm Takes Swipe at UK Gambling Commission
by Glenn Baird - May 20, 2020
The law firm, Mishcon de Reya has criticised the UKGC for the changes they have told operators in the UK to make to their responsible gambling regulations during the Covid-19 crisis.
The main focus of their criticism is that operators in the UK were not consulted before changes were made, something that would normally involve 3 months’ worth of negotiations before an agreement is met.
Mishcon de Reya refer to the Gambling Act, where it states that changes similar to these should involve warning and consultation and that because this did not happen many operators have struggled with “operational changes”.
Mishcon de Reya go on to state that the guidance should be just that and should not be made mandatory.
The Commission has stated that all operators in the UK should be tracking and monitoring the vulnerability of its customers, keeping a close eye on the potential of changes in financial circumstances in light of the Covid-19 crisis and ensure that they act accordingly if such circumstances do arise.
The measures that they feel should have been part of a consultation process are:
A constant review of the triggers that suggest vulnerability should be in play. Operators should be aware of increased gambling time and changing financial situations.
Sustained play of over 1 hour should now be considered a trigger of vulnerability, if it is not already and those customers should be interacted with.
New customers should have modified threshold triggers put into place, until a fuller picture of that customer has been formed.
Continual monitoring should be in place to identify changing patterns of play so that operators can identify patterns of play, spend or behaviours have changed in recent weeks.
Regular affordability checks should be conducted on existing customers and if a concern is raised that customer should have their access blocked or limited until further checks have been conducted that suggest those blocks or limits can be lifted. If those checks suggest the customer is at risk then those blocks or limits should remain in place.
“Prevent reverse withdrawal options for customers until further notice.”
Any customers displaying vulnerable behaviours should not be offered any deals or bonuses.
A representative from Mishcon de Reya said: “Many will view these measures as further evidence of a strident regulator imposing more and more onerous restriction in the absence of evidence of increased problem gambling.
“However, the commission has long adopted a precautionary approach and while different interpretations can be made, the data does suggest increases in length of play and spend on certain products in some categories of consumer.
“For the time being, licensees should take steps to implement the new measures. In the current political climate and in the interests of potentially vulnerable consumers, the industry needs to continue to act responsibly and be seen to be doing so.”