Start date: 03 November 2020
End date: 12 January 2021
Remote gambling operators already have the capability of identifying customers who may be harmed by gambling. Our evidence shows that the industry has not used this capability sufficiently to reduce harms. We are therefore consulting on stronger requirements that will help ensure remote gambling operators do more to identify consumers who may be harmed by gambling and to interact and take action sufficiently early and effectively to prevent harm.
Whilst some operators have continued to improve their processes on customer interaction, our casework and lived experience evidence shows that operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels, and that they are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risk of potential harm.
Where we have identified failures to meet the requirements, we have taken compliance and enforcement action, and will continue to do so where we see failings. However, it is important that all operators learn the lessons of this casework, and that we raise standards to prevent the risks for consumers. It is in the interests of consumers to ensure that minimum standards are implemented consistently across the industry and does not rely on the Commission taking enforcement action against individual operators.
As part of these new requirements, we propose that online gambling operators must act on information they have about a consumer’s vulnerability, and to introduce stronger requirements, including that operators must conduct defined affordability assessments at thresholds set by the Commission.
We are also calling for evidence on what the thresholds for these affordability assessments should be, the nature of these affordability assessments and how operators are required to protect consumers following an assessment.
We recognise that there is a need to strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling that would have an adverse financial and health impact on consumers. It is necessary for an operator to understand whether a customer is gambling beyond their means to understand the risk of such harms.
We also want to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. This consultation explores the risks we have identified and how we as the regulator, the industry and other key stakeholders, including the financial sector, could help to mitigate these risks.
For these reasons, we want an open and public dialogue on this consultation. We are particularly keen to hear directly from consumers during the consultation period on how operators should be required to identify vulnerability, and gambling which is unaffordable, and the circumstances where it is appropriate to take action on behalf of a consumer.
We want to have an open discussion with all stakeholders, but particularly consumers. As part of our engagement with consumers during the consultation, we will release further material to support discussion and enable the broadest possible range of consumers to share their views.
Our aim as a result of this consultation is to better protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling related harms.
Respond to the consultation.