Customer interaction guidance - for remote gambling licensees (Formal guidance under SR Code 3.4.3)
Section C - Act - Requirement 10
This current guidance was issued in August 2023 and is in effect from 31 October 2023. It replaces all earlier versions of guidance issued for remote gambling operators.
10. Licensees must prevent marketing and the take up of new bonus offers where strong indicators of harm, as defined within the licensee’s processes, have been identified.
It would be irresponsible for a licensee to encourage or incentivise a customer displaying strong indicators of harm to gamble further. The aim is to create a consistent position across licensees that where there are strong indicators of harm, the customer no longer receives any direct or targeted marketing and that the customer is prevented from taking up any new bonus offers.
10.1. Where there are strong indicators of harm, direct and targeted marketing and the take up of new bonuses should be prevented as soon as practicable. We would expect licensee processes to include the use of automation in some cases to assist with the timeliness of the response. There should be processes to extend the restriction across all product types and where relevant across the group.
10.2. This requirement does not act in isolation. Where there are strong indicators of harm, it may be appropriate for further, separate action to be taken, which may include ceasing the business relationship.
Assessing what constitutes a bonus
10.3. In order to assess whether a promotion is a bonus, the Gambling Commission will consider the facts of the case. In summary, generic in-game mechanics applied to all customers are unlikely to constitute a bonus, but individually targeted offers or inducements would likely be considered a bonus.
Likely to be considered a bonus
10.4. All targeted marketing is within scope of this requirement. The licensee should therefore consider in-scope of requirement 10 any funds or equivalent provided by a licensees and added to a customer’s account from which the customer can place wagers, including deposit matching funds for wagering at the customer’s discretion, free spins on specific games, and free bets for sports betting.
Examples of what the Commission is likely to consider a bonus offer are:
- in-game mechanics such as bonus spins which were targeted at a customer
- promotions targeted as a result of individual levels of play, bet credits, and free bets.
Unlikely to be considered a bonus
10.5. Generic in-game mechanics applied for all customers are unlikely to constitute a bonus – in other words, promotions which are widely available and not targeted. The following are examples of mechanics which, subject to the particular factual circumstances, the Commission is unlikely to treat as a bonus offer:
- in-game mechanics which are available to all customers and randomly applied
- prize structures which are available to all customers and randomly applied
- settlement of a bet in line with the terms and conditions in a manner which is available to all customers
- refunds that are linked to standard terms and conditions of an individual bet and/or linked to a specific and identified customer service issue.
Assessing whether a bonus is a new bonus offer
10.6. Requirement 10 applies only to new bonus offers. In order to assess whether an offer is a 'new bonus offer', the Commission will consider issues such as whether a customer has already spent funds or time towards earning a bonus offer before strong indicators of harm (as defined in the licensee's processes) were identified. For example, if there is a spend requirement of £50 and the customer has spent £25, this would not be a new bonus.
Bonuses which are partway through
10.7. Requirement 10 applies only to new bonus offers. However, licensees should consider their processes for customers who are part way through an offer, both to consider fairness and customer protection. Operating Licence Condition 7.1.1 in relation to fair and transparent terms and practices is relevant here.
10.8. If a customer is part way through the requirements of a bonus and the licensee ends the business relationship for safer gambling reasons the licensee should consider whether it would be fair and reasonable for the customer to receive a proportion of the bonus based on the customer’s position at the time.
10.9. If a customer is identified as displaying strong indicators of harm while they are part way through a bonus, licensees should consider (based on all of the information they hold on the customer) whether to prevent completion of the bonus offer. This should include giving consideration to the structure of the bonus offer and whether it would be responsible to allow the customer to complete it. It should also include consideration about customers receiving a proportion of the bonus offer.
Commercial considerations should play no part in any decision to withdraw a bonus that has been partially completed. Instead, licensees should take into account fairness and prevention of harm.
10.10. Requirement 10 does not apply to non-monetary bonuses. However, licensees should consider whether they should prevent the take-up of non-monetary bonuses in some circumstances. These should only be continued in circumstances where the practice does not increase the risk of harm for the customer.
Licensees may wish to refer to Social Responsibility (SR) Code Provision 5.1.1 which relates to rewards and bonuses where 'a licensee makes available to any customer or potential customer any incentive or reward scheme or other arrangement under which the customer may receive... goods, services or any other advantage...'.
Transparency to customers
10.11. Licensees are required to have fair and transparent terms and practices (Operating Licence Condition 7.1.1). They should therefore consider the circumstances where they would prevent a customer from completing a bonus for regulatory reasons (as well as for commercial reasons) and how to ensure transparency through terms and conditions, notifications to customers and other practices.Previous section
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Section C - Act - Requirement 11
Last updated: 23 August 2023
Show updates to this content
Guidance updated following the 'Remote customer interaction - consultation on guidance'.