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Enforcement report 2018/19

Safer Gambling

We have set out clear expectations for operators in relation to safer gambling and expect operators to actively cooperate with each other to mitigate and minimise harm, collaborating to accelerate progress and evidence impact.

We want a focus on ‘what works’, and first and foremost we expect operators to empower and protect consumers.

This area of regulatory oversight is broad, encompassing proper identification and engagement with those who may be at risk of or experiencing harms, ensuring terms and conditions are clear, fair and straightforward for consumers and do not target the vulnerable or self-excluded customers. Some examples are:

  • Social responsibility codes are built into the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) and must be adhered to in the same way as licence conditions –as a requirement of holding a licence.
  • Our Gambling participation in 2018: behaviour, awareness and attitudes annual report revealed 30% of respondents thought gambling is fair and can be trusted and 79% were of the view there are too many opportunities to gamble nowadays. 71% considered gambling is dangerous for family life. In addition, the Gambling behaviour in Great Britain in 2016 report sets out there are around two million adults who may be experiencing at least moderate negative consequences from their gambling including 340,000 people who are classified as problem gamblers. 
  • Our activity in the area of consumer protection continues to develop at pace in a number of work areas. As we set out in our Business Plan 2019 – 2020, we will continue to push the industry to raise its consumer protection standards and demonstrate they know their customers and use what they know to protect them. We will support them by sharing best practice and encouraging collaboration through a programme of workshops, interactive events and partnership working.
  • In April 2019 we launched the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. This three-year strategy will drive and coordinate work to bring a lasting impact on reducing gambling harms. For the first time health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses will come together in partnership to effectively tackle the issue – with the Commission calling for action and combined efforts to deliver the two strategic priority areas of prevention and education and treatment and support. As part of the new strategy, we will continue to take a firm regulatory enforcement approach while also further improving gambling harms research and evaluation, so there is widespread adoption of what works.
  • We have previously published guidance for the industry on customer interaction in online gambling. This is essential reading for operators, helping them identify people who may be experiencing or are at risk of developing problems with their gambling, and ensuring their systems are robust enough.

Operators should use this guidance to look at their own policies and procedures. They must think about whether they meet our expectations or if more needs to be done.

We have also discovered repeated examples of customers being allowed to gamble significant sums of money in short time frames, way beyond their personal affordability, and without any intervention from the operator. These problems can be particularly acute over weekends and during the night. This issue of affordability is addressed further in the section below on this topic, which is relevant for both customer interaction and AML purposes.

There are signs of progress and pockets of developing good practice and collaboration. But much more needs to be done and shared across sectors to ensure the welfare of customers receives the commitment it requires.

Watch the customer interaction video below.

 

Our notable enforcement cases

We have taken regulatory action against a number of licensees who have failed to meet the customer interaction requirements to detect customers who are or may be problem gamblers.

Key public statements were made following licence reviews in the following notable cases:

Rank Group (November 2018)

Mark Jarvis (October 2018)

Video Slots (November 2018)

Paddy Power Betfair (October 2018)

Daub Alderney (November 2018)

Casumo (November 2018)

Next section: Safer Gambling case studies