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Feature article: Remote gambling – almost everything you need to know!

In meetings with local authority teams one question that invariably comes up is the issue of remote gambling, often prompted by the quantity of advertising for such products and secondly the apparent ease of access via mobile technology.

What is remote gambling?

Remote gambling is specified in Part 1 (4) the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab) as follows:

(1) In this Act “remote gambling” means gambling in which persons participate by the use of remote communication. (2) In this Act “remote communication” means communication using— (a) the internet, (b) telephone, (c) television, (d) radio, or (e) any other kind of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication.

So, for example it does include self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), where the bet is placed by remote means, which are found in betting premises but it does not include lottery ticket vending machines which are simply a means of dispensing pre-printed lottery tickets, no gambling takes place via the machine itself.

The statistics

In Great Britain the total gross gambling yield (GGY) of the industry is £14.5bn of which £5.6bn is remote. The remote betting bingo and casino sector had a 39% share of the market which was a 1.2% increase on the previous year. (Industry Statistics May 2019).

In terms of how and where people gamble online 96% do so at home, with 45% using a laptop, 55% using a mobile or tablet device. In addition 23% (of online gamblers) have bet in play in the past 4 weeks. The survey also indicates that 18% of respondents had gambled online in the last 4 weeks, unchanged from the previous year. (Gambling Participation Survey Feb 2019).

How is remote gambling regulated?

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 (opens in new tab) amended the 2005 Act so as to make it a requirement that those who provide facilities for remote gambling to consumers in Great Britain required to obtain the appropriate licence from the Commission (irrespective of the jurisdiction in which they are based.) Since taking on this responsibility we have made a number of changes to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP).

For example, last year we consulted and subsequently implemented changes regarding online age verification and customer identity to ensure that operators:

• verify the age of customers before they can deposit money or gamble, or access play-for-free versions of gambling games • verify the identity of a customer – including their name, address, date of birth and email address – before they are allowed to gamble • verify that the name associated with the customer’s payment method matches the name of the gambling account holder.

and we are currently consulting on the options of either banning the use of credit cards for gambling or introducing limits and restrictions on the use of them. Additionally we have imposed a range of sanctions on the remote sector in relation to, for example failures regarding social responsibility requirements and anti-money laundering measures.

What role does a LA play?

At s181 of the 2005 Act a LA has the power to limit the number of SSBTs in a betting premises or casino. Part 19 of the Guidance to Licensing Authorities provides more detail.

Aside from this LAs have a key role to play in prevention, education and treatment in line with the National Strategy thus helping to ensure that those at risk of, or experiencing gambling harm, are provided with signposting to the appropriate information and treatment.

What should I do if I receive a complaint about remote gambling?

In the first instance the complainant should approach the operator directly and exhaust their internal complaints procedures. Should this fail to satisfy them all operators are obliged to have an Alternative Disputes Resolution process in place via a 3rd party to whom the complainant should address their concerns.

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