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Consultation response

Remote customer interaction: Consultation Response

This response document sets out our conclusions and actions in relation to the consultation around remote customer interaction.

Our position on requirement to act

We have concluded following consultation that operators must be required to take action in a timely manner when they identify the risk of harm. This is a reiteration and strengthening of our current expectations on gambling operators.

As some respondents commented, timely action will depend on the nature and severity of the indicator of harm. However, we found from our casework that many operators had a consistent format for interacting with customers which followed the same process and steps regardless of the number or severity of the risk indicators. Often this meant starting with a very early form of action such as sending an email. While emails are part of the toolkit available to operators, an email is not in and of itself an appropriate action to each and every indicator of harm, and more urgent and proactive steps are sometimes needed. We have therefore concluded that it is appropriate and necessary to require operators to tailor the type of action they take based on the number and level of indicators of harm exhibited, as proposed in the consultation. We have clarified the wording of this requirement following consultation to reflect that operators must tailor their processes in the following ways:

  • tailored action at lower levels of indicators of harm which seeks to minimise future harm
  • increasing action where earlier stages have not had the impact required
  • strong or stronger action as the immediate next step in cases. where that is appropriate, rather than increasing action gradually
  • reducing or preventing marketing or the take-up of bonus offers where appropriate
  • refusing service or ending the business relationship where necessary.

This approach reflects our position that some minimum standards must be set in LCCP in order to clarify our expectations and raise standards across the remote sector. Some respondents to the consultation considered that the Commission should specify the detailed action that must be taken for every indicator of harm or combination of indicators of harm. This would amount to a detailed set of algorithms set by the Commission and applied by all operators. The Commission considers that this would be disproportionate – it could require very detailed requirements taking account of every permutation of product and consumer risk. We are also conscious that this could lead to a tick-box approach by operators, where some risks and issues were missed as a result. Instead, we have taken this significant step to set minimum indicators of harm and clear requirements about tailoring the response to those indicators. However, the Commission’s guidance will support operators to comply with this requirement by giving clear guidance on examples of what is expected to be treated as strong indicators.

In addition, we have concluded that it must be a requirement on remote gambling operators to include automated solutions as part of this tailored approach. In some cases, it will be necessary to react to strong indicators of harm with automated steps. In the consultation we explored the data protection requirements related to automated processing. As a result, we have specified that the licensee must manually review their operation in each individual customer’s case and allow the customer the opportunity to contest any automated decision which affects them.

We have also concluded that operators must prevent marketing or the take-up of new bonus offers to customers where there are strong indicators of harm. We have therefore specified a firm requirement that the operator must prevent marketing or the take-up of new bonus offers for any customer where there are strong indicators of harm. This ensures that the customers who are most at risk of harm are not harmed by marketing and bonus practices.

Our customer interaction guidance for remote operators will continue to give guidance on what is seen as timely and tailored action. The guidance will also support operators to set ‘strong’ indicators of harm that are appropriate for the actions that are required when these indicators appear. This guidance is in line with the consultation proposals about strong indicators of harm. This guidance will be expanded over time by embedding operator good practice and as technology improves to support targeted and specific action for customers.

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Respondents’ views on requirement to act
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