UK Gambling Commission Steps Up Protective Policy for Vulnerable Gamblers

May 16, 2022
Mark Patrickson

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has updated its code of practice to increase protection for vulnerable gamblers. From September 12, 2022, gambling operators must comply with the new guidelines which detail how companies must “interact in a way which minimises the risk of customers experiencing harms associated with gambling.”

Clamp Down

The new stance appears to have been brought on by numerous cases of gambling firms not doing enough to protect customers who could have been assessed as at-risk or even clearly displaying signs of problem gambling.

When the new rules come into effect, operators must follow a three-step approach to identify, interact with, and then evaluate new customers.

In the future, the recent fining of Sky Vegas to the tune of £1.17m will look like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sending information about free bets to 41,395 self-excluded customers must have sent the UKGC into a wild frenzy, determined never to let firms get away with such flagrant behaviour ever again.

UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes said: “Time and time again our enforcement cases show that some operators are still not doing enough to prevent gambling harm. These new rules, developed following an extensive consultation, make our expectations even more explicit.”

Affordability Checks

One area of concern in recent years has been the lack of affordability checks. Customers have been able to deposit funds for gamblings with little to no due diligence on whether or not they can afford to lose the money.

Threshold limits are likely to be implemented to avoid unsustainable losses, but even the mere mention of this has led to gambling firms and shareholders voicing concerns about massive loss of profits, potentially putting smaller firms at risk of going out of business.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said they support the increased checks but also didn’t want to interfere with the personal freedoms of responsible gamblers without suggesting how this could be done.

It also spoke out against the possibility of pushing gamblers toward the unregulated market. Up to 90% of gamblers ignore requests from gambling operators for additional information about where funds came from and it is almost certain that many will walk away from firms that start to insist on compliance.

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