Top rated casinos regulated by Gibraltar Gambling Commission
A Players' Guide to the Gibraltar Gambling Commission
The purpose of this article is to provide players with detailed insight into the regulations that gambling operators holding a Gibraltar license are subject to, specifically focusing in on the regulations that directly impact players or the service that they receive.
There are 4 principal documents in the Gibraltarian regulatory system that layout the framework that licensees have to abide by in their interactions with players. These are detailed below. We will frequently quote from these documents in this article. To aid users in understanding where different quotes come from, we will colour code the quotes as shown in the below list:
This is the principal piece of legislation governing remote gambling businesses located in Gibraltar.
This document expands on the Gambling Act, providing licensees with more detail on what the Gambling Act actually requires of them. It is a secondary document and where conflicts were to occur between the Code of Practice and the Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Act 2005 would take precedent.
This document again expands on the Gambling Act 2005 and the Code of Practice for the Gambling Industry, however unlike the Code of Practice which sets out standards that licensees have to strictly comply with the Remote Technical and Operating Standards (RTOS) lays out guidelines for best practice for licensees. Licensees are still expected to meet the standard in the RTOS, but these standards can be met via differing measures than are strictly outlined in the RTOS. This is detailed in the below quotes:
“2. Standards, Principles and Guidelines
The purpose of the RTOS document is to offer more detailed guidance to the Gibraltar remote gambling industry on meeting the broader policy requirements of Gibraltar’s regulatory framework. As Standards they are intended to establish arrangements for licence holders to adopt that will ensure the Gibraltar based remote gambling industry continues to develop, follow and represent industry good practice. As such the contents of the document are largely advisory rather than obligatory; however, the standards are structured in two parts:
This document will set out both a principle and guidelines for each standard. The content of a principle is derived from a requirement of Gibraltar’s regulatory framework, that is the Act, a Licence Agreement, the Generic Code, the AML Code, or any other code of practice or obligatory document. As such, a principle should be observed by the licence holder. The guidelines are a means, and generally will be a widely recognised and acknowledged means, of observing a principle, but a licence holder may transparently adopt alternate arrangements to the same effect.
Each standard will make clear reference to the principle it is derived from.”
“5. Compliance The gambling commissioner will monitor a licence holder against the standards through various arrangements as set out in Standard 1.1.
A licence holder found not to be complying with a principle is likely to be in breach of a more substantive licensing requirement and the issue will require early explanation and attention. That is not to prejudge the issue in what is recognised as a dynamic and varied industry and market.
A licence holder found not to be complying with a guideline will be expected to be able to demonstrate an equally effective set of arrangements for addressing a principle.”
This document primarily relates to (in respect to player experience) the procedures that the operator are expected to engage to verify players.
We have looked to group varying sections of the above documents into thematic sections that should help players identify the rules relating to certain topics that they may be interested in and provided some commentary at appropriate points.
It is important to note that any commentary we have given is our interpretation of the meaning of the stated regulations. Interpretations can and do vary significantly when it comes to regulatory standards and it is the regulator’s interpretation that counts.
We should also point out – given that this document is likely to be frequently used by players looking to build a case for a complaint – that if your expectation is that the operator will be “shut down” or “lose their license”, you are very likely to be disappointed. Even where regulatory breaches have been identified, with a decade of experience working as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service within the remote gambling sector, we have rarely seen any single complaint case that resulted in an operator losing their license. In the situations where we have encountered this, it has been within weak regulatory systems and it is our opinion that it is likely that this action was taken based on secondary factors (for instance, failure to pay licensing fees) and that the complaint itself was coincidental in nature. With most license holders having tens of thousands (this is likely very conservative when the Gibraltarian license holders are concerned) of registered players, the regulatory is unlikely to consider sanctions based on a single case.
“28.(1) A licence holder shall not permit a person to participate in any gambling activity, unless that person has registered with the licence holder in the form specified by the Licence Authority, giving his full name, residential address, age and any other particulars which may from time to time be so specified.”
“14.1 Licence holders should ensure that all their players are registered with them in the form specified in the Act. This is a minimum standard and requires: the players full name, residential address and age (or date of birth).”
The above directs that before being allowed to play, a customer must provide their full name, residential address and date of birth. This is the minimum requirement and we would anticipate that most licensees would also require an email address and potentially a contact telephone number.
The above regulations would appear to restrict non-registration based gambling – for instance where the only details required to play are BankID – though there may be ways round this that are compliant with requirements.
“2.(3) To elicit accurate and reliable personal data from prospective participants, registration pages should:
a) Include information on registration pages e.g. tag/tabs, notices, instructions, etc. to remind participants of the need for accuracy and of the value of using personal data consistent with existing official documents or records that may in due course be checked electronically or manually.
b) Advise customers that the withdrawal of deposits or winnings may not be permitted until further identity verification processes have been satisfactorily concluded.”
The above is guidance from the Remote Technical Standards and directs that good practice would be for operators to include within their registration form information that encourages players to provide accurate information. It also suggests highlighting that failure to do so is likely to delay withdrawals.
This bears emphasising as this service receives a large volume of complaints that relate to problems verifying accounts and often these problems occur because the player has provided inaccurate information during the registration process.
Availability of Account information
“2.4 Customer transactions information and history
(1) Customer account transactions should be recorded in a comprehensive, accurate, and intelligible manner. Licence holders should provide customers with direct remote access to their account history dating back for a minimum period of thirty days, with older material being made available on request as per terms and conditions.”
The above is guidance on best practice, not regulatory requirement.
Players should be able to access 30 days worth of play history, with more being available by request to the operator. There does not appear to be any defined requirement of how long the operator should retain this data for.
“38.(1) A licence holder shall, by notice in writing to the Gambling Commissioner nominate a place for the safe keeping of his transaction records.
(4) A licence holder shall keep transaction records for not less than five years from the date of the event giving rise to the record.”
“9.1 Licence holders are required to advise the Gambling Commissioner in writing where customer transaction records are retained. That place will be required to meet the security standards set out in the Commissioner’s Technical Standards document, which will reflect recognised good practice on the storage of personal data. The records should be kept in a manner that will allow true and fair financial statements and accounts to be prepared and audited. Transaction records should be retained for at least 5 years.”
“3.17 Record keeping. Consistent with data protection legislation and AML requirements, licence holders are required to keep records of the measures they have applied to establish the identity of customers, and records of the value of their transactions, for at least 5 years after the relationship ends. The detail and retention of such records should be commensurate with the nature of the apparent risk and sufficient to support any subsequent investigation or court proceedings; i.e. high spending customers with no history with the licence holder or whose source of funds is uncertain should be subject to more substantive enquiries and record keeping than those who were occasional but sufficient gamblers to trigger examination. The Commissioner supports systems that ‘step down’ the amount of data retained after say, 1, 3 and 5 years.”
Transaction records must be retained for 5 years. This does not place any specific requirement on communication records. Game play history could be ambiguous under this definition – the transaction records have to be retained, but the specific information about the game results (rather than financial results) of each individual round may not have to be retained. So, for example, the operator could be required to retain the transactional records about a round of play on Video Poker but may not be required to retain details of the specific resultant hands.
“(2) A customer’s gambling event and transaction history is an important part of the account information that should be securely recorded, consistent with data protection obligations. Licence holders should be able to recover comprehensive account transaction information which should include, as appropriate:
a) customer id.,
b) event id.,
c) session start and end time,
d) customer device details (e.g. ip address, computer id, cookies, as available),
e) session’s wager(s) (time-stamped),
f) event results (e.g. win $100, lose $100)
g) The display/symbols/result e.g. card, dice, score, etc. determining the final outcome of the event,
h) choices made by customer,
i) total monies wagered for session,
j) total monies won for session,
k) funds added to account for session (time-stamped),
l) funds withdrawn from account for session (time-stamped),
m) account balance at start and end of session,
n) event status (complete, in progress, etc..)
o) credits/bonus features awarded in play. All customer account transactions should be uniquely identifiable and securely maintained in a system audit log.”
The above is guidance from the Remote Technical Standards that would encourage operators to retain more detailed information than the Gambling Act or Code of Practice stipulates, though it does not indicate how long this data should be retained for.
These requirements are beneficial to players who are looking to make Subject Access Requests, to obtain information to build a complaint case around. However, we would encourage players to be specific about the information they are requesting and understand that not all of the above list may be available.
“6.2. (9) During the age verification period:
a) Customers may be able to deposit funds and gamble, however, they will not be able to withdraw any deposits or winnings until they are confirmed as over 18;”
The point worth highlighting in the above is that during the verification process, while the operator are required to limit withdrawals, they are not required to restrict further deposits or play. This is a dynamic that is common across most regulatory frameworks that is frequently raised by complaining players. That you were allowed to keep playing, but not allowed to withdraw while verification was ongoing is not grounds upon which we can support your claim.
“4.2 The Commissioner recognises that the timeframe for an EDD process should be risk based, reflect the facilities available to the licence holder in the customer’s place of residence, the frequency of contact/transactions by the customer, and be consistent with the typical EDD processing time for that place. Typically, the Commissioner expects the EDD process to be initiated soon after the first deposit and be completed before any withdrawals are permitted, and generally within 28 days, assuming the customer continues to engage with the licence holder and cooperates with the EDD process.
4.3 For the purposes of this document the Commissioner interprets EDD as a three stage process arising from S. 10(a), S. 17 and S. 18 of POCA. Stage 1 is that of obtaining sufficient identification, Stage 2 is the verification of that identity against ‘reliable and independent’ means, and Stage 3 is further identity verification by way of additional database checks, ‘supplementary measures’, or a bank process in the name of the customer (as examples given in S.18). These stages are not prescribed as a separate or consecutive process, but this model is helpful in considering options to satisfy EDD.”
“4.7 Where a registered customer’s identity cannot be verified (Stage 2) using database or bank/credit card processes then the licence holder is likely to resort to obtaining copies of or extracts from ‘official’ documents and/or other reliable and independent means of confirming identity, and using a combination of sources to complete Stage 2 and 3.”
There are two points to make about the above terms:
i) As a standard operators are allowed and can attempt to complete required verification in a non-invasive manner, using various databases they have access to, to check your details against. Where this fails to adequately verify your account documentation (government issued ID, utility bills etc) are likely to be requested.
It is our experience that most operators will tend towards requiring document submission in most cases, at least before withdrawals are considered. Whether that suggests that automated checks are of limited use in the verification process, or whether this is an effort to exceed strict regulatory standards to minimise their legal vulnerability is not a matter we could comment on.
ii) Where you are playing frequently, but have not withdrawn, verification would be required to take place within 28 days of registration (if you’ve only played a few times and do not appear to be consistently engaging this standard would relax, dependant on other factors).
“4.12 Whilst EDD has to be initiated ‘as soon as practicable’, where a customer’s deposits reach the equivalent of EUR 2000 or a customer seeks to withdraw funds then EDD must be initiated. If the EDD process is not concluded in a reasonable time frame the account should be subject to additional and proportionate supervision, consistent with the value and risk profile of the account and the deposits. An ongoing assessment should be made at an appropriate management level with a view to expediting the pending verification or other resolution using a risk based approach. Where the verification process fails then no further gambling transactions should take place, including transfers or cash out/withdrawals. In such circumstances, deposits should be retained until identification is resolved.”
The above tells us that the operator has to engage Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) either at the point of withdrawal or where deposits reach €2k. For the majority of players – those who are not depositing frequently or do not display other ‘high risk’ activity flags, verification will occur at time of withdrawal.
It should be noted that in most cases the player’s perception of the operator having failed to verify their account is not valid grounds to contest a refund of losses. If there has been a failure on the operator’s part – and to be clear sufficient verification may have occurred in a non-invasive fashion – the operator may be subject regulatory warning/sanction, but this would be on the grounds of inadequate efforts to prevent financial crimes, not player protection, and as such would be very unlikely to result in a refund of losses.
“2.5.(11) The licence holder’s liability for customer balances, pending withdrawals and guaranteed prizes should be separately identifiable at any point in time, and operators should be able to demonstrate sufficient cash and cash equivalents to pay these balances.”
The guidance issued indicates that operators should be able to “demonstrate sufficient cash…. To pay these balances”. Effectively, operators should have enough cash or equivalent on hand to demonstrate to the regulator that they can meet their financial obligations to players. This differs from the standards required by the UKGC which requires that operators keep player balances segregated in a separate account to the business’s funds at all times.
“2.5. (3) Subject to any legitimate restrictions that may legitimately apply (e.g. ongoing security checks) a customer should be able to initiate the withdrawal of funds from his account at any time.”
The above is guidance about best practice and should be common sense. However, this is worth highlighting - many player complaints we review are based on the assertion that “my account has already been verified”. This statement is problematic. There is no such thing as a “verified” account in an ongoing sense. The legal requirements that operators are subject to are ongoing. As new information becomes available to them – this may be information you provide, it may be ongoing play data, it may be patterns of activity over a group of accounts or it may be information provided by legitimate 3rd parties (i.e. payment providers etc etc) – what the operator is required to do can and does frequently change. Simply because the operator has informed you at some historic point that your account is “verified”, does not mean that all current verification requirements have been met.
“2.5.(4) A licence holder should ensure prompt and accurate processing of withdrawal requests, subject to appropriate and necessary checks and verifications. Processing should normally be completed within 5 working days (excluding weekends and bank holidays) of the conclusion of verifications. The payment method used by the customer may add to the time before a customer is actually in receipt of such funds”
Again the above is guidance, not requirement, but the regulatory expectation is that where all verification checks have been reasonably completed all withdrawals should be processed by the operator within 5 business days. This does not mean that you have to receive the funds in that timeframe – other delays may occur due to 3rd parties involved in processing the transaction – only that the operator should have sent the funds from their end within this period.
“2.5.(5) Licence holders should provide a description of the withdrawal process in their terms and conditions (or other appropriate place) including a general description of the time normally taken to process withdrawals of different types.”
Nothing particularly surprising here – the operator should provide information on their withdrawal process and the time each method is likely to take. This is notable because other weaker regulatory entities do not always require that operators provide this information.
“2.6.(2) Licence holders should review and manage all inactive accounts, and should attempt to contact customers, including written correspondence, before an account is made dormant and subject to administrative charges. Where the operator imposes dormant account charges, these should be proportionate to the cost of the management and administrative efforts made to contact the customer. Attempts to contact the customer should make clear the licence holder’s dormant account policy and administrative charges.”
This is another clear differentiating factor between a Gibraltar license and weaker licensing systems – the guidance indicates that Gibraltar licensed operators should make clear efforts to contact customers before dormancy fees are imposed and stipulates that said dormancy fees should be “proportionate to the cost of the management and administrative efforts made to contact the customer”. This means that the licensee cannot simply seize the entire balance once an account is considered dormant. It also means that ‘% of the balance’ type fees are likely unacceptable, as they are not correlated to the “efforts made”. As such players should expect a flat fee likely in the €5 range, which appears to be the industry agreed upon standard.
“2.6. (3) A licence holder should give at least 14 days written notice to the customer before the account is deemed dormant and is subject to deductions/charges.”
“2.6. (4) The efforts to contact the customer should be proportionate to the value of the account balance; accounts should not be ‘zeroed’ until the conclusion of the dormant account policy.”
The above indicates – as would be reasonably expected – that licensees are expected to differentiate their approach based on the size of the balance. Obviously a balance of a few cents is likely to be inconsequential to the player. However a balance of hundreds or thousands would require the operator to engage more substantive efforts to reunite the player with their funds before dormancy fees are applied.
Sub-Section - Responsible Gambling Information
“27. (1) Any remote gambling website operated by or on behalf of a licence holder shall contain on the home page a direct link to the websites of at least one organisation dedicated to assisting problem gamblers.”
“5.5 Licence holders are required to make information available to customers about responsible gambling practices, including self exclusion. For remote licence holders, in addition to a reference in the terms and conditions, a conspicuous link to responsible gambling information, including details of organisations dedicated to assisting problem gamblers, should be displayed on the website and on a page at the start of any gambling session, often referred to as the ‘lobby’ or ‘entry’ pages, or where username, password and other site access information is typically provided. Similarly, such a link should be provided at the end of the gambling session when the player uses the log out facility.”
So, there should be should be reference to responsible gambling information:
- on the website (likely in the page footer)
- displayed appropriately when logging in
- when logging out
What constitutes “conspicuous” in terms of linking clearly is subject to the interpretation of the regulator.
“5.6 Responsible gambling facilities should be offered in the language(s) of the predominant users or intended users of the licence holders’ site(s).”
“4.5. (1) Responsible gambling facilities and customer information should be offered in the language(s) the licence holder provides its remote gambling website(s) and services.”
Broadly speaking this means that responsible gambling information is going to be presented in English, however where the site is presented in local language the responsible gambling material will need to be made available in the relevant language.
Sub-Section – Limits
“5.8 Licence holders should ensure that systems are in place to warn customers not to gamble beyond their means to pay, and should have systems in place to take into account information (such as communications and contact by the customer or advice/information from financial institutions) that indicates that the customer may be gambling beyond their means. Where this occurs the licence holder should initiate measures to assist the customer manage their gambling. This should include the generally available facility to set controlled, daily deposit, time or gambling limits, and self exclusion. The Commissioner will monitor local arrangements before considering whether specific standards for limits should be set.”
“(5) The gambling management facilities should include at least one of the following gambling management options:
a) Deposit limit per time period – an overall maximum deposit limit over a specified period of time (e.g. daily, weekly, etc…)
b) Time played reminder – a means for the customer to be reminded of the length of time he has been logged on to the gambling facilities.”
The above indicates that operators should make available the option to:
- set deposit limits over a specified time period.
- set loss limits (“gambling limits”)
- set session time limits
- set self-exclusions
It should be noted that with respect to “time limits” this actually appears to be a requirement for a reminder about how long a player has been playing rather than limits stopping a player after a pre-determined length of time.
“5.1.(3) Customers should have the ability to set a gambling management facility (deposit or time) as part of the registration process or at the point at which the customer makes the first deposit.”
Guidance indicates that deposit limits or session time limits should be offered during the registration process or immediately before/after the first deposit.
“5.1. (7) The licence holder may set their own gambling management facility limits for customers, in which case:
a) Customers should be informed of any such limits.
b) The lower of the two limits (self/imposed by licence holder) should always apply.”
The operator can pro-actively impose various limits/restrictions on a player’s access to their service if they feel there are indicators of risk in the player’s behaviours.
“5.1.(8) Where a customer requests a limit to be reduced (reduced gambling), it should be implemented as soon as reasonably practicable given the circumstances and timing of the request. The request process should make the customer aware that any requested reduction in a limit will not be implemented until notification in writing has been issued to the customer.”
The above is perhaps not worded in the clearest of language, but our understanding is that where the player requests to make a limit more restrictive (i.e. reduce the amount of gambling that they can engage – lower a deposit limit, lower a loss limit, reduce a time limit, extend a self-exclusion) that this should be actioned by the operator as soon as possible.
“5.1.(9) Customers should be able to impose the limit of their choice or a limit from a substantive range of preset limits. ‘No limit’ may be an option but should not be the default limit option/value.”
For any facility where the operator is offering the player to select a limit (for example – immediately after registration or at the point of first deposit) there should be a range of options for the player to choose from and while there can be an option of ‘no limit’ this should not be the auto-selected option. So if a player clicks through without paying attention they will at least end up with a minimum restriction offered rather than no limits.
“5.1. (10) Once established by a customer, a request to increase a limit (increased gambling) should, generally, only be implemented after a 24 hour period. There may be circumstances however where a request to increase a limit(s) may be implemented before 24 hours. In these cases:
a) A trained manager should consider the request and allow the limit to be increased if he/she considers it appropriate. A trained manager is considered to be someone of appropriate seniority and appointed by the licence holder to make judgements and take responsibility for such decisions.
b) A record of the request including details of the request, the manager(s) involved, the decision, and the reasons for the decision should be kept. Typically, such cases will involve established and unproblematic customers with an evident reason for increasing their limit.”
So effectively, any limit a player places on their account can be lifted at request after a 24 hour cooling-off period. It should be noted that there is a clear difference between limits and self-exclusions/time outs which will be discussed next. Limits can be lifted without this 24 hour cooling-off period at the discretion of the operator, though it seems likely that any decision to lift a limit in this fashion would have to be substantially documented in case of regulatory challenge.
Sub-Section – Self-exclusions/Time outs
“27. (3) A licence holder shall ensure that systems are in place− (a) to enable a person to request to be self-excluded from gambling with the licence holder;”
“5.1 Licence holders should have defined systems in place to enable customers to request to be self excluded. Such requests should be a deliberate and considered action by the customer and should be implemented by the licence holder as soon as practicable and in compliance with the defined procedure. Implementation should include confirming receipt of the request to self exclude via an identified e-mail account or the means of correspondence/communication used by the customer. Confirmation should include specific information on the process and consequences of self exclusion, including the point at which self exclusion has commenced.”
“5.2.(1) Licence holders should have in place systems that enable a customer to request to be prevented from accessing a licence holder’s gambling facilities. Licence holders should offer customers the following access control facilities:
(a) Time out: enable the customer to request a ‘time out’ period, up to 6 months. During the ‘time out’ period the licence holder should prevent further gambling activities as agreed with the customer and make reasonable endeavours to prevent marketing to customers during the time out period.
(b) Self Exclusion: enable the customer to request Self Exclusion from the licence holders facilities for a period of six months or more.”
There is a basic requirement for licensees to offer a self-exclusion (6 months or longer) or time out (6 months or less) facility.
There are a couple of interesting points to make about the above. Licensees have to have a “system” in place to request a self-exclusion. This term does not stipulate what this system has to look like. So directing to an email address or Live Chat would likely be considered sufficient. This requirement does not seem to go so far as to require an in account system where players can set a self-exclusion without requiring the intervention of operator support.
Next the statement “Such requests should be a deliberate and considered action by the customer”, likely means that there has to be a clear statement of intent. Simply asking to “close” an account is unlikely to require the operator to treat the request as a self-exclusion.
“5.2. (5) Licence holders should consider making available to customers time out and exclusion periods for specific products e.g. sports book, casino, poker, bingo etc.”
The regulator encourages – though does not mandate – that licensees should offer exclusion facilities for specific verticals only. For example restricting from the casino while still being allowed to use the sports book.
“5.2 In respect of those matters under the control of the operator, self exclusion should include the prevention of the use of all known existing accounts, and the prevention of the opening of new accounts by the customer using the same or very similar registration details, and the early removal of the customer from all gambling marketing databases, and as far as is reasonably practicable, all third party databases. The Gambling Commissioner will not normally regard self exclusion to be in place until it has been confirmed by the licence holder.”
“5.2. (6) The customer’s request for Time Out or Self Exclusion should be implemented consistently across all brands and labels under the control of the licence holder.”
The above tells us that self-exclusions do carry over to other properties on the license automatically under the GGC license. It also tells us that new accounts using “very similar” registration details should be prevented. This term is ambiguous enough that it could mean a number of things, however it does seem likely if there are changes like using a different email address to register, or changing the registered name (for instance ‘John Tester’ to ‘John-Thomas Tester’) would be unlike to result in the operator being obligated to detect and prevent registration of a secondary account.
This is a stronger requirement that the MGA currently have in place. It may be as strong as the UKGC’s requirements, but that would very much depend on the interpretation of “very similar” taken by the regulator.
“5.4 The Gambling Commissioner recognises that self excluded persons may successfully circumvent a self exclusion agreement. Where this is found to have occurred, a record should be kept and the Commissioner should be advised. As a general policy, in respect of the return of deposits or payment of winnings to the customer, each case should be judged on its merits but the Commissioner would expect any ‘winnings’ to be retained by the licence holder.”
The above term tells us that if you are self-excluded and manage to re-register by changing registration information or playing under someone else’s name (“circumvent a self-exclusion”), when this is detected by the operator winnings are to be retained by the operator. Deposits appear to be left to the discretion of the operator.
“5.2.(8) Where a customer requests access control the licence holder should ensure that:
(a) There is a review of any previous access control requests and these are taken into consideration in determining the most appropriate response.
(b) As soon as reasonably practicable following the licence holder’s processing of the request, no new bets or deposits are accepted from that customer, until such time as the control has expired or been removed.
(c) During the control period, the customer is not prevented from withdrawing any or all of their cleared account balance.
(d) Where ‘permanent’ or ‘open ended’ self exclusion is offered, the licence holder should ensure that the customer’s account balance is remitted to the customer.
(e) In the event of six months or more exclusion, where the customer is identified as wishing to resume gambling after the conclusion of the control period, the excluded customer should be invited to confirm to the licence holder via a documented process that they wish to return from the exclusion before their account or the facility is re-instated.
(f) In the event of time out being taken by the customer the operator should impose a suspension of that account for the agreed period. Time out does not impose an obligation on the operator to ‘lock out’ the customer if he or she requests or decides to return to gambling or has other facilities. Then the Time out expires or is cancelled by the customer, a simpler means of returning to gambling, proportionate to the nature of the request, can be applied.”
From the above we can conclude the following:
i) That a self-exclusion or time out should not prevent you from withdrawing unrestricted funds (funds that aren’t limited by incomplete bonus requirements or outstanding wagers).
ii) That if you self-exclude “forever” that unrestricted funds should be returned to you at the point that the self-exclusion is put in place.
iii) That you cannot lift a self-exclusion during the exclusion period until the exclusion period has concluded. Once it has concluded you will still need to speak to Customer Support before your account will be re-opened (i.e. this should NOT happen automatically at the end of the self-exclusion period). This would appear to mean that ‘permanent’ or ‘forever’ self-exclusions could never be lifted.
iv) Time outs can be lifted at any time. They do not differ from any standard account closure request.
“5.2. (9) Licence holders may decide to exclude a customer for responsible gambling reasons (‘operator imposed exclusion’), in which case a record should be kept of the assessment and decision made and any account balance remitted to the customer.”
Operators can impose time outs or self-exclusions on players they feel are at risk but where they do so unrestricted balances should be returned to the player at that juncture.
“5.2.(10) A third party making an application for a customer’s self exclusion should be properly identified by the operator. Taking into consideration Data Protection legislation, an appropriate manager should give due consideration to the appropriate course of action to be taken in response to such requests.”
The above allows for someone other than the player – perhaps a concerned family member or friend – to request that the operator restrict a player, but requires that the operator take appropriate measures to ensure that the players personal information is not shared with this 3rd party without authorisation of the account holder. This may mean that the account is restricted but that the operator are unable to confirm to the requesting 3rd party that any action has been taken.
“5.2. (12) Where a self excluded customer is able to breach the exclusion system and is subsequently detected, the reimbursement of deposits is at the licence holder’s discretion and should take into account the history of the customer. Breaches to self exclusion should not be incentivised by the automatic reimbursement of deposits or the payment of winnings.”
Where a player manages to circumvent a self-exclusion, the recommendation of the regulator would appear to be that losses are not refunded. This is in line with recent research into gambling addiction and UKGC standards as refunding losses in these circumstances has been shown to fuel rather than diminish further addictive behaviours.
It should be noted that the above does direct that “discretion” should be applied. This likely means that consideration should be given to whether there was a wilful effort on the part of the player to circumvent the exclusion or whether the play was allowed due to a technical failure or unwittingly on the part of the player.
Sub-Section – Underage Players
“32.(1) The home page of any remote gambling website maintained by a licence holder shall contain a link to a page which displays the following information−
(c) a statement in the prescribed form to the effect that persons under the minimum permitted age, within the meaning of the Gambling Act 2005, are not permitted to participate in the gambling activities provided by the licence-holder.”
“37.(1) A licence holder shall take all reasonable steps to prevent any person from participating in the gambling activities provided by the licence holder unless he is at least of the minimum permitted age.
(2) In this Act “the minimum permitted age” means, subject to subsection (3)−
(a) in relation to a lottery of a description specified in Schedule 2, sixteen; and
(b) in the case of any other description of gambling, eighteen”
“37. (4) If the licence holder becomes aware that a person under the minimum permitted age is or has used the licence holder’s gambling facilities−
(a) the stake (whether by fee, stake or otherwise) paid in respect of any such gambling shall be returned to the person by the licence holder as soon as is reasonably practical; and
(b) any winnings to be paid in respect of such gambling shall be forfeited to the Government and paid into the Consolidated Fund, provided that any winnings paid or payable to the person before the licence holder became aware that the participant was under the minimum permitted age shall not be forfeited to the Government; and
(c) the licence holder shall not require a person to return any winnings paid in respect of such gambling before the licence holder became aware that the participant was under the minimum permitted age.”
“8.6 The return of stakes to under age players arises from S.37(4) of the Act which states that where a licence holder become aware that a person under the minimum permitted age for gambling has accessed its services it must;
1. advise the Commissioner of the circumstances at the earliest opportunity (to: [email protected])
2. take steps to return to that person all his/her stake(s) used for the gambling;
3. forfeit any unpaid winnings to the Government Consolidated Fund;
4. not take steps to recover any paid winnings.”
The notable points in the above – beyond the obvious prohibition on under-agers accessing gambling services - are:
- Deposits are to be returned.
- Winnings are forfeited and are required to be turned over to the Gibraltar Government Consolidated Fund.
- If winnings have already been paid out, the operator is NOT allowed to pursue the return of those winnings.
“6.2.(10) Subject to the Gambling Commissioner’s advice and no evidence of fraud, deposits should still be returned to the underage customer even where the lost deposits have been distributed to other customers. Reimbursement is not expected to leave the underage customer any better than ‘neutral’ in terms of their gambling activity.”
Our understanding of the above term would be that a confirmed underage player (as opposed to a player claiming to be underage in an effort to obtain a refund), should always be refunded by the operator. This would even be applicable when dealing with peer-to-peer type games (for instance poker) where the losses of the underage player have already been paid out to other players.
“8.2 Licence holders are expected to take reasonable measures to self test the effectiveness of their age verification systems and remote licence holders should permit the use of parental blocking and filtering systems.”
The above certainly implies an obligation for the licensee to provide information on “parental blocking and filtering systems” as this is not something that they will have inbuilt into their own service. BetBlocker, the charity founded by ThePOGG.com, offers the only free parental blocking service.
Terms and Conditions and Advertising
“(2) The Minister, after consulting the Gambling Commissioner, the Licensing Authority (if not the Minister) and licence holders, may prescribe rules governing the advertising of the gambling activities authorised under a remote gambling licence.
(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2) any such rules may prohibit under penalty advertisements that are−
(a) indecent, pornographic or offensive;
(b) false, deceptive or misleading;
(c) intended to appeal specifically to persons under the minimum permitted age ; or
(d) in breach of copyright laws.”
“17.1 The Commissioner is not minded advise the Minister to consider prescribing any further rules concerning the advertising of their gambling facilities whilst licence holders continue to observe the requirements of the Act and their licence agreements, i.e. that they observe the law and/or guidelines on advertising in place in those jurisdictions where their facilities may be accessed. In particular, where they do advertise, they observe the requirements of Section 32(3) of the Act, i.e. advertisements must not be: 1 indecent, pornographic or offensive; 2 false, deceptive or misleading; 3 intended to appeal specifically to persons under the minimum permitted age; or 4 in breach of copyright laws.”
“4.4.(9) Licence holders should ensure that any affiliate and/or third party performing advertisements or undertaking other forms of marketing on their behalf is aware of and is willing to take appropriate steps to abide by S.4.4 of the RTOS.
(10) If the licence holder becomes aware of an affiliate and/or third party behaving in a manner that contravenes the RTOS and/or other Gambling laws or, the licence holder should take reasonable steps to ensure that the affiliate ceases that behaviour or that the affiliate and/or third party contract is terminated.”
No porn, nothing deceptive, nothing aimed at children and nothing breaching copyright laws. This requirement also places responsibility for actions taken by any advertising partners that the operator chooses to work with on the operator. So if an affiliate website that is advertising the operator is found to be breaching one of these standards, the operator are beholden to require the affiliate to cease the offending activity and if the affiliate fails to do so, to terminate their relationship with the offending affiliate.
“35. The licence holder shall ensure that his rules are so displayed that they may readily be seen by those who enter his premises, or in the case of the holder of a remote gambling licence that they may readily be accessed by persons visiting his remote gambling website.”
“6.1 All licence holders are required to publish their rules where they are visible and accessible to all those who visit or use their facilities for gambling. ‘Rules’ will be regarded as the terms and conditions of the gambling as well as the rules by which any particular game or activity has to be undertaken.”
“6.2 Remote licence holders: The Gambling Commissioner understands the term ‘readily accessible’ to mean a live link from the home page(s), ‘about us’ page and the customer registration pages of the relevant website(s) to a dedicated presentation of the relevant rules. Where a remote licence holder controls a series of websites or brands or operates through joint ventures, the rules should be accessible as above for each specific website.”
“3.4.(3) For each game, the licence holder’s game rules and information should be readily accessible and identifiable in a clear and intelligible manner by way of a conspicuous link to the game rules on the home pages for gaming products, game selection screens/menus, and within individual games.”
“3.4.(5) The availability of game rules and information should be checked regularly; if the information is not available the game should not be made available for gambling.”
Terms must be “readily access[ible]” this could mean a number of things, which makes the clarification of 6.2 and 3.4.(3) beneficial. As such we can state that the general terms have to be on the homepage (likely in the footer), the ‘about us’ page (likely within the text description of the business) and on the registration form (commonly found with the conformation of consent check box required before submission) and that game rules should be included within the individual games.
“6.3 Licence holders are required to expect that where customers may reasonably assume rules to be well established, understood or unchanged, but they are not, due emphasis will be given to those variant rules. Licence holders should monitor customer interpretation of rules and be prepared to make appropriate amendments where misunderstandings occur.”
“3.1 General (1) Rules or information published or presented to the customer in any form e.g. visual, auditory, written, pictorial:
a) Should be accurate, intelligible, and unambiguous (not misleading)
b) Should be reviewed where they are found to be open to misunderstanding or misinterpretation on a recurring basis.
c) Should be accessible from the home page or any presentation of access to ‘Terms and Conditions’ as a live link.
d) Should be legible and in a recoverable format (e.g. to print or save).
e) Should be fit for purpose in terms of the issues generated by the licence holder’s business model, product offers and customer activities likely to be contended.”
“3.6.(1) Licence holders should review and amend any terms and conditions that are found to cause confusion amongst customers.”
“3.7. (2) Licence holders should notify customers via written correspondence and/or on screen advice when any significant terms and conditions are changed. Such notification may be general or selective, as appropriate. Records should be kept as to how and when such notifications were managed.”
There are two potential consequences for players in the above.
Firstly, if the rules have changed (i.e. are not “unchanged”) then the operator should make efforts to ensure players are made aware of what has changed, though scope is left for operators to determine whether simply stating there have been changes (“general”) or highlighting the specific changes (“selective”) is “appropriate”. We would suggest that good practice would be to make clear the specific changes that have occurred.
Secondly, there is an implied responsibility for the operator to “monitor” terms for consistent customer problems and make “amendments” where problems are encountered. There is clearly significant scope for interpretation in this matter. For example, from our perspective, that of an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service who have been managing player complaints for a decade, it would seem reasonably arguable that maximum bet terms that are commonly associated with bonuses and promotions have consistently caused significant levels of customer misunderstandings for a substantial number of years. There are easy technical solutions to this issue, but there does not appear to be any substantive pressure – from the GGC or other regulatory entities – to encourage licensees to address this issue. It would appear evident that the regulatory interpretation of this requirement differs from our own in this sense. This serves as a good example of how interpretation can play a significant part in the enforcement of regulations. Even the most thorough regulatory document will leave the regulator scope to make their own determination regarding the exact meaning of the requirements.
“3.7. (5) Changes to rules and pay tables should not be retrospective in their effect. Generally, and wherever possible, changes should be applied when the facility is inactive or deactivated and be readily apparent to any customer returning to a facility.”
Fairly straightforward – the rules cannot be changed then applied to events that occurred prior to the change.
Game Technical Requirements
“(3) In accordance with the following provisions of this section, a licence holder shall furnish to the Gambling Commissioner at such intervals as are referred to in subsection (5), a certificate that the integrity of any computer equipment used to facilitate the carrying on of the activities authorised under the licence has been properly tested by a body approved by the Minister in consultation with the Gambling Commissioner, the Licensing Authority (if not the Minister) and after consultation with licence holders.
(4) A certificate furnished to the Gambling Commissioner for the purposes of subsection (3) shall contain the following information− (a) the name of the owner of the equipment; (b) the name of any company or individual who carried out the testing; (c) a declaration that software forming any part of a random number generator is fair and reliable; and (d) such other information as the Gambling Commissioner may from time to time in writing specify.
(5) A licence holder shall not be regarded as complying with subsection (3) unless he secures that a certificate required by that subsection is received by the Gambling Commissioner within the period of one year beginning on the date on which the licence was first granted and thereafter, for so long as the licence remains in force, at such intervals as may be required by the Licensing Authority.”
“13.3 All such computer equipment (software and hardware and associated systems) is required to meet the Commissioner’s Technical Standards document in respect of system security and product reliability, including proof of software testing by an approved independent testing house or appropriate in house testing facilities.”
“11.1. (1) Licence holders should be able to demonstrate the fairness and randomness of all games to the Gambling Commissioner without any undue delay.
(2) The output obtained through the use of the RNG in games shall be proven to:
(a) Be statistically independent.
(b) Be uniformly distributed over their range.
(c) Pass various recognised statistical tests intended to demonstrate a) and b) above and the absence of patterns.
(d) Be unpredictable without knowledge of the algorithm, its implementation, and the current seed value (all of which should be secure).
(e) be random and distributed in accordance with the rules and expected probabilities of the game.”
This section requires licensees to have appropriate testing certificates from independent testing labs.
The GGC consider the following Testing Labs to be competent to meet these standards:
GLI Europe BV *Formerly known as Technical Systems Testing (TST).
GLI Test Labs Canada ULC *Formerly known as Technical Systems Testing (TST).
GLI UK Gaming Ltd (formerly known as NMi Metrology & Gaming Ltd)
Quinel M. Ltd”
“7.1. (1) Licence holders should make information available to customers on their website(s) about their testing and quality assurance arrangements in place to assure fairness and randomness in their gaming products, including information about testing/certification by an ATF where applicable and where this can be accessed.”
“11.4.(1) A licence holder’s remote gambling services should be verifiably fair to the customer in terms of the performance of the facility in accordance with the published rules and terms and conditions. The licence holder’s website(s) and game client (where applicable) should have a ‘fairness’/‘fair gambling’ content that:
(a) Informs the customer of the measures taken to ensure fair gambling such as the in-house and/or external quality management and/or testing that the licence holder undertakes to certify the fairness and reliability of its product(s).
(b) Provides access to copies of any certificates by ATFs and/or other bodies with respect to information security, RNG (randomness, fairness, integrity etc.)
(c) Provides a Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) section specific to gambling fairness.
(2) The home page, ‘about us’ page and the customer registration pages of the licence holder’s website(s) should display a link to the licence holder’s ‘fairness’/‘fair gambling’ gambling content.”
Operators should provide players with information regarding which testing labs are providing certification for them. This includes providing links to testing certificates.
“2.4.(2) Where credits are displayed in game play, the customer’s current account balance should be displayed in currency (as opposed to credits). Information on the credit to currency conversion should be clear and readily accessible. Telephone betting who do not have online access to account balance information, should be provided with their balance on request.”
The above is guidance. The important part of the above, for most players, would be that where games offered by Gibraltar licensed operators use a coin based wager/pay system, they should also display the balance in the account currency as well.
“2.4. (3) Customers should be able to review at least their last game, either as a re-enactment or by description. The review process should clearly indicate that it is a replay of the previous game, and should make apparent:
a) The date and time the game was played,
b) The display/symbols e.g. dice results, cards, etc… associated with the final outcome of the game.
c) Total customer cash / credits at start and end of play,
d) Amount gambled including any multipliers (e.g.: number of lines played, and cash /credits bet per line),
e) Total cash / credits won for the prize resulting from the last play (including progressive jackpots),
f) Any customer choices involved in the game outcome, and
g) Results of any intermediate game phases, such as gambles or feature games.”
Again this is guidance. You should be able to review in detail the last round of play. This is important! Many players, when encountering what they believe to be a problem with a game round, play on then complain later. By playing on they overwrite information that could be critically important to their case. Once this data is gone, demonstrating that there was an issue becomes significantly more challenging! The lesson here is that if you believe a game has not functioned correctly, stop immediately and engage the operator’s complaints process. If you play on the chances of making a successful case diminish quickly.
“2.4. (5) Where odds are reduced between the first submission and final acceptance of a bet, a system record should be created which confirms adjusted odds were accepted.”
The above is relevant to sportsbook players – where the odds change between the time you select the wager and the time that the wager is confirmed, there should be some form of alert notifying you of this and requiring acceptance before the wager is confirmed.
“3.4. (10) Game rules should be date stamped and previous versions should be made available to customers on request.”
You should be able to ask to see old versions of game rules on request.
“4.4. (11) The general playing rules and the payout percentage for a particular game should be the same in free play mode as it is in the real money game.”
The free to play versions of games should be the same as the pay to play versions.
“7.1.(3) Games should be implemented and operate fairly and strictly in accordance with the published rules and prevailing RTP where applicable.”
This requirement requires games to adhere to published rules and RTP figures, but does not actually require the games to publish RTP figures. This means where a slots game does not publish an RTP figure, there are effectively no standards that the game has to adhere to. This issue is discussed at length in our article Online Slot RTPs Explained.
“12.4. (1) (b) Where a game engine has a theoretical RTP (e.g. slot games) a licence holder should employ reliable and audited means to perform quarterly RTP analysis of the game engine’s output.”
The above indicates that slots game should have an established theoretical RTP and that the game results need to be checked quarterly to ensure that they are falling within expected ranges though it does not stipulate that the RTP figures should be published, not prohibit them being changed.
“7.1. (5) A licence holder should not implement game designs or features that may reasonably be expected to mislead the customer about the likelihood of particular results occurring. This includes, but is not limited to the following:
(a) Where a game simulates a physical device the theoretical probabilities and visual representation of the device should correspond to the features and actions of the physical device (e.g. roulette wheel).
(b) Where multiple physical devices are simulated the probabilities of each outcome should be independent of the other simulated devices (e.g. dice games).
(c) Where the game simulates physical devices that have no memory of previous events, the behaviour of the simulations should reflect the behaviour of the physical devices (e.g. roulette wheel, cards, dice games).
(d) Games should not falsely display near-miss results, that is, the event may not substitute one random losing outcome with a different losing outcome.
(e) Where the event requires a pre-determined layout (for example, hidden prizes on a map), the locations of the winning spots should not change during play, except as provided for in the rules of the game.
(f) Where games involve an element of skill, every outcome described in the virtual event rules or artwork should be possible, that is, the customer should have some chance of achieving an advertised outcome regardless of skill.
(g) Where a customer contributes to a jackpot pool, that customer should be eligible to win the jackpot whilst they are playing that game, in accordance with the game and jackpot rules.”
“7.3. (1) Games should not be “adaptive” or “compensated”, that is, the probability of any particular outcome occurring should be the same every time the game is played, except as provided for in the (fair) rules of the game.”
The above standards are discussed at length in our article Are Online Casinos Rigged [LINK].
“7.1.(6) If a cap is established on any jackpot, all additional contributions once that cap is reached should be credited to the next jackpot.”
Fairly self-explanatory – where a progressive jackpot game has a upper limit on the size of the jackpot, once this is reached the operator CANNOT pocket jackpot contributions after this point. The additional jackpot contributions have to be ringfenced and added to the seed jackpot value after the jackpot is next won.
“31.(1) If a registered participant’s participation in a remote gambling transaction is interrupted by a failure of the licence holder's equipment in such a manner as to prevent the participant from continuing with the transaction, the licence holder shall refund any amount staked or wagered by that participant in respect of that particular transaction to his account as soon as practicable or, if possible, ensure that the transaction is resumed as soon as practicable if this may be done without detriment to the participant.
(2) If a transaction is interrupted as a result of a failure of the licence holder’s equipment and, as a result, a detriment is caused to a registered participant or there is a suspicious circumstance, the licence holder shall− (a) promptly inform the Gambling Commissioner of the circumstances of the failure; and (b) not conduct a further transaction if that transaction is likely to be affected by the same failure. ”
“15.1 In the event of a significant or substantial disrupted service that causes pending transactions to be aborted, licence holders are required to implement procedures to refund stakes or wagers in a way that is compliant with S.31 of the Gambling Act and fair to all the participants affected. The procedures should be readily accessible in the licence holder’s rules or terms and conditions.”
“3.4.(9) The game rules (or terms and conditions) should cater for situations where the licence holder loses connectivity with the customer and how such customers will not be unfairly disadvantaged.”
The effective practical result of the above is that the majority of operators will have terms included that void any transaction where there is any technical issue. This does mean that if your game round is interrupted and is non-restorable you will only receive your stake returned, not any potential winnings from the round (including bonus rounds).
This is another matter that frequently results in player complaints – for instance, where a bonus feature is triggered but the game is terminated before the feature is played/concluded. Players look for and expect winnings to be paid after a terminated round if there was clear reason for them to expect a winning results. There is a question to be asked in these situations (a bonus round being triggered etc) whether the player is being “unfairly disadvantaged” by a standard practice of simply refunding the wager, but to-date as far as we are aware the regulatory expectation would simply be for a refund of stake. This is not just a GGC expectation but is consistent with the requirements of other major regulatory entities.
“32.(1) The home page of any remote gambling website maintained by a licence holder shall contain a link to a page which displays the following information−
(a) the full name of the licence holder and the address from which he carries on business under the licence;
(b) a statement that the licence holder is licensed by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority and is regulated under this Act;”
“16.1 The Act requires licence holders to display on their home page a link or links to a page(s) that includes:
1. the full name of the licence holder and the address in Gibraltar from which he carries on business under the licence;
2. a statement that the licence holder is licensed under the Act by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority;
3. a statement that the licence holder is regulated under the Act by the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner;
4. and a statement in respect of the permitted age for gambling.
16.2 In respect of the use of web links, the Commissioner requires licence holders to use the Government motif as a live link to the Gambling Division website as the means of indicating to users that the licence holder is licensed and regulated under this Act.”
“3.8. (2) Licence holders should include on the primary webpages and landing pages of the licence holders’ Gibraltar licensed products:
(a) as a footer, the information stated in section 16.1 of the Generic Code, i.e. Operator Name and Address is licensed by the Government of Gibraltar Licence Number XX (optional) and is regulated by the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner.
(b) Government of Gibraltar Gambling Division web links”
The above effectively requires all licensees to display the GGC seal, with a link to their license page and provide clear information on the company name and address and a statement that they are regulated by the GGC.
“3.8.(3) White label and platform partner web pages should provide a conspicuous link to information that accurately describes the relationship between the licence holder and the co-owner/co-controller of the relevant web pages. (See Standard 13.2(4)).”
The above is a tricky requirement. In my personal opinion, I have yet to encounter any white label operator who has managed to clearly articulate the relationship between the regulator they are licensed by, the license holder and the sub-licensee in a manner that would be easily understandable to the average player. I would suggest that the efforts to do this that are present currently may be legally technically accurate, but fall short of defining the relationships in an easily understood fashion.
Physical location of operator
“7. The Licensing Authority may refuse to renew a licence if−
(j) the licence holder has failed to maintain a physical presence in Gibraltar;”
In case of looking to take legal action, Gibraltar licensed operators must have a physical address on Gibraltar. This is a significant distinction in comparison to weaker regulatory systems where it can be challenging to locate an address for the operator.
“2.3 The Commissioner proposes that the principal method by which he will exercise his responsibilities is by:
5. the examination of complaints from the public, including any underlying or systemic issues they identify,”
“40. A licence holder shall promptly inquire into−
(a) any complaint made to the licence holder by a participant regarding a transaction; or
(b) a complaint referred to the licence holder by the Gambling Commissioner.”
“11.1 All licence holders are required to promptly inquire into:
1. Any complaint about a gambling transaction made to them by a participant, or
2. any complaint referred to them by the Gambling Commissioner.
11.2 The Gambling Commissioner requires that, wherever possible, complaints should be properly investigated by the licence holder and referred to the attention of the Commissioner only if the licence holder’s complaints procedure has failed to resolve the issue. Exceptions to this advice would include very serious complaints involving substantial sums or issues of public interest, which should be brought to the Commissioner’s attention at an early opportunity
11.3 The term ‘gambling transaction’ should be given a broad interpretation by licence holders, to include such matters as the wider administration of accounts, marketing and any matters designed to affect gambling transactions.
11.4 The Gambling Commissioner will normally refer complaints made to him by third parties to the relevant licence holder for them to examine in the first instance.
11.5 To properly manage complaints, licence holders will be expected to have in place, and set out in their operating procedures, a system for recording and examining customer or other third party complaints. This should include adequate resources to address complaints expeditiously, a means of identifying and preserving all relevant material associated with the complaint, access to any independent adjudication process for appropriate disputes, and a means of maintaining a record of all complaints that can be made available to the Commissioner as and when reasonably required.”
“10.1.(5) If the licence holder’s complaint procedure, including any third party resolution process, fails to resolve the issue the participant may refer their complaint to the Commissioner via the Commissioner’s Complaint Resolution Procedure by submitting a Complaint Resolution Request Form.
10.1. (6) Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Commissioner’s Complaint Resolution Procedure requires the participant to use the licence holder’s complaints procedure before the Commissioner’s Complaint Resolution Procedure may be used. Exceptional circumstances would include very serious complaints involving substantial sums or issues of public interest.”
From the above we can see that the Gambling Act 2005 itself does not specifically require the operator to engage with an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, but the Code of Practice does appear to require licensees to provide “access to any independent adjudication process for appropriate disputes”. The definition of “appropriate disputes” is left open to interpretation, so it may be the case that the operator could argue that certain complaints do not meet the standards of appropriateness. And while there is a requirement that the operator engage with an independent adjudication process, there is no stipulation that the licensee has to abide by the rulings of said adjudicator.
Furthermore we can see that a complaint will have to go through the operator’s internal dispute process prior to the regulator being willing to give any consideration to the matter. This is effectively standard across all significant regulatory bodies and ADR services and is a frequent stumbling point for players who look to approach the regulator/ADR before engaging with/completing the operator’s internal complaints process.
“11.7 From the evidence to date, the Commissioner sees no case to require a sanctions schedule in respect of founded complaints against operators. However, the ability to refer a licence holder to the Licensing Authority with a view to amending or terminating a licence is seen as an unlikely and disproportionate means of imposing a penalty other than for the most persistent and serious, blameworthy staff or system failures.”
Our interpretation of the above would be that the GGC would be disinclined to view amending or terminating the license of an operator as appropriate for the majority of individual complaints. It would only be in the case of repeat offenses of the same nature or very egregious staff/system failures (we would assume some malicious intent at a high level would be required) before this type of sanction would be considered.
This point bears highlighting as many players carry expectation when they bring complaints to our service that the operator “will lose their license” or be “shut down”. We have never seen a single complaint issue that has had this level of consequence in any regulatory system of consequence.
“52.(1) The Minister may by regulations appoint a Gambling Ombudsman to undertake such functions and to exercise such powers as may be prescribed in relation to any activity licensed under this Act.
(2) An appointment under subsection (1) shall be on such terms and conditions as the Minister considers appropriate.”
To date we are not aware of the GGC appointing any Ombudsman for the gambling industry.
8.1 Publication of a given enforcement action will be determined by the nature of the action taken, in particular whether it is arises from a formal sanction under the Regulations or whether a regulatory settlement has been agreed.
8.2 Publication under the Regulations is required where enforcement action has been taken in the form of a financial penalty, the suspension or withdrawal of a licence, a temporary ban from managerial positions or directions have been given.
8.3 There is a requirement to consider the proportionality of publication on a case by case basis and publication may be delayed, published on an anonymous basis to ensure effective protection of personal data, or not published where it is considered that either delaying or publishing on an anonymous basis.
8.4 In respect of a Regulatory Settlement, the GC retains a discretion in respect of whether or not to publish. Similar considerations in respect of proportionality will be considered as well as the appropriateness of making any settlement public and whether it will achieve the intended outcome.
8.5 It is unlikely that a decision would be made not to publish solely on the basis that it would adversely affect the reputation of a Licence Holder or an individual.”
The above states that where sanctions are taken against an operation, a publication on the matter will only be made where the sanctions take the form of “financial penalty, the suspension or withdrawal of a licence, a temporary ban from managerial positions or directions have been given”. Furthermore where publication of sanctions does occur, the regulator appears to be inclined towards anonymising the sanctions. An example of this can be seen here.
This policy appears to diverge significantly from the UKGC policies, where a sanctions register is maintained and any licensee who receives a sanction is included on the register alongside the basis for the sanction.
Website - https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/finance-gaming-and-regulations/remote-gambling
Email - [email protected]
Telephone - 00350 20064142
Fax - 00350 20064150
Address - Gambling Division
H.M Government of Gibraltar
Europort Suite 812 & 813