The UK Gambling Commission has unveiled a range of new social responsibility measures that clarify the role that operators play in protecting vulnerable portions of society from gambling-related harm.
The new regulations, which go into effect on May 8, doesn’t always specify exactly what operators need to do, but instead focuses on the results that the UKGC wants to see from them, and points out that if operators don’t work to improve their efforts, there could be penalties up to and including having their licenses revoked.
The update to the UKGC’s expectations in the updated License Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).
They follow a consultation on the topic of “Strengthening Social Responsibility,” and resulted in two different types of provisions, some that are simply considered good practices, and others that are considered necessary to comply with as a condition of having a UKGC license.
The measures cover a variety of measures that span a wide range of topics related to gambling-related harm. For instance, the LCCP features new requirements that operators must make it demonstrably harder for children to gain access to online poker and casino sites.
For larger operators, this includes a requirement to conduct purchasing tests that ensures that effective systems are in place to stop underage players from playing hands at real money tables.
The UKGC also says that they want to see operators do a better job identifying those who are experience harm and intervening in an effective manner.
This means that the employees of operators should be trained to better supervise customers in gambling venues and identifying those who are at risk of problem gambling, even if they haven’t yet shown obvious signs of harm.
One of the most public changes will come in new rules on marketing and advertising. The regulations now make it clear what is fair and open, while also making it more difficult to skirt around the spirit (or the letter) of the rules.
For instance, one popular tactic for advertising gambling is to offer free bets to players. These ads are still allowed, but must now be transparent, clear, and not misleading.
Both online and land-based operators are expected to do a better job of helping players curb their gambling. For land-based gambling venues, the UKGC wants a self-exclusion system in place by April 2016 that would let a customer make one request to a company and then be excluded from all venues in the area.
A similar national self-exclusion list is also a goal for Internet gaming, and the UKGC hopes that this could be implemented by 2017.
Online poker and casino operators would also be asked to provide a “time out” functionality for players. That would allow users to take a break whenever they want, as well as give them the option to review their spending at any time.
Overall, it’s hoped that these measures will improve the steps operators are taking to ensure that while people are free to gamble recreationally, the harm done by the industry will be minimized.
“The work we have done through the review represents a significant strengthening of the social responsibility measures in the LCCP,” said UKGC chair Philip Graf.
However, Graf said that he would still like to see more significant changes to UK gambling laws. In particular, he asked for a public debate on what he called “anonymous gambling.”
“We have reached the point at which it is clear that much more could be achieved if anonymous gambling in cash was not such a prominent feature of land-based gambling,” he said