This box is not visible in the printed version.
This response sets out our position in relation to the consultation on changes to multi-operator self-exclusion, notification of deaths by suicide and payment services.
Published: 17 October 2023
Last updated: 17 October 2023
This version was printed or saved on: 1 December 2023
Online version: https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/consultation-response/changes-to-multi-operator-self-exclusion-notification-of-deaths-by-suicide
The Gambling Commission regulates most forms of commercial gambling in Great Britain, including the National Lottery. We also license the individuals and businesses that offer gambling and provide them with advice and guidance.
Our licensing objectives under the Gambling Act 2005 (opens in new tab) are to:
We have a statutory duty to aim to permit gambling provided that it is reasonably consistent with the licensing objectives.
In February of 2023 we consulted on three proposed amendments to our Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) requirements on gambling businesses for multi-operator self-exclusion, notification of deaths by suicide and a technical update relating to payment services (opens in new tab). The detailed proposals were to:
Following careful consideration of the responses received during the consultation, we will be proceeding with each of the three proposed Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) changes.
We have decided to extend the requirement to participate in the GAMSTOP multi-operator self-exclusion scheme to all gambling businesses that make and accept bets by telephone and email.
This updated requirement will come into force on 1 April 2024.
We have decided to add a requirement for all gambling businesses to inform us when they become aware that a person who has gambled with them has died by suicide.
This new requirement will come into force on 1 April 2024.
We have decided to update the existing condition to reflect the current legislative provisions and ensure that the condition is suitably future proofed against any further simple legislative changes.
This updated requirement will come into force on 31 January 2024.
On 28 February 2023 we launched a consultation on three proposed changes to our Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). The consultation ran for 12 weeks until the 23 May 2023.
We received 77 written responses to the consultation from the following categories of respondents:
In this consultation, the Gambling Commission continued the pilot of some introductory questions to help us understand the perspective of those responding and consequently inform our policy responses. The questions were amended following feedback from a previous consultation, so they were asked primarily of people responding as individuals.
The questions ask about the frequency with which people gamble, and whether they have experienced negative consequences as a result of their own or someone else’s gambling. Response numbers to these optional questions were low but they did help us understand the perspective of those who chose to answer them. We intend to continue including the introductory questions in our consultations as we believe they provide valuable insight from gambling consumers.
We sought views on our proposal to reduce the scope of the exemption provided for by Social Responsibility (SR) Code Provision 3.5.5 to extend the requirement to participate in the GAMSTOP multi-operator self-exclusion scheme (opens in new tab) so that it covers all categories of gambling licensees who offer betting by telephone or email. We proposed to do so by applying the requirement to the following additional categories of gambling licensees:
For these purposes, we set out in the consultation that we consider that telephone and email includes telephone voice calls, email, SMS (Short Message Service) text and instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct.
There was good support for this proposal with the majority of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing. Respondents felt that the proposed changes would provide for a comprehensive self-exclusion scheme and that the reach of GAMSTOP should be extended to capture all telephone and email betting.
Some respondents felt strongly that telephone and email betting should have been captured when GAMSTOP first went live and that it was likely that many consumers would expect that telephone and email betting was already captured as part of GAMSTOP.
Additionally, GAMSTOP provided a number of examples of comments made to their Contact Centre on this issue. Two examples are provided as follows for illustrative purposes:
The other respondents were broadly split between disagreeing and/or strongly disagreeing, neither agreeing nor disagreeing and/or not answering. Those that disagreed and/or strongly disagreed noted that some telephone and email betting gambling businesses do not currently utilise the software required to integrate with GAMSTOP and that the costs associated are disproportionate and unaffordable.
Some felt that the proposal would push vulnerable consumers towards the unlicensed gambling market, that consumers who bet by telephone are well known to their gambling businesses and therefore less likely to be experiencing issues with their gambling and that when compared with other gambling products, telephone and email gambling is considered lower risk.
Additionally, one respondent asked whether the proposal would apply to telephone and email betting facilities offered to other licensed gambling businesses for the purposes of hedging liabilities.
A small majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that, despite the additional financial costs for gambling businesses to be brought within scope of the proposal, the proposals were nevertheless proportionate when mitigating the risk of harm to vulnerable consumers. In their responses they noted that the associated costs came with being a regulated gambling business and the benefits to vulnerable consumers outweigh the costs to gambling businesses.
Those against the proposals felt that the associated costs were disproportionate given the potential risk to consumers and the costs would be unaffordable for small businesses given the low levels of Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) generated from their telephone and email businesses.
We have carefully considered all of the responses to the consultation and have decided to extend the scope of Social Responsibility (SR) Code Provision 3.5.5. This extends the scope of the requirement to participate in GAMSTOP, so that it will cover all categories of gambling businesses who offer betting by telephone or email (including remote general betting (limited) licences and ancillary remote betting licences, when they are relied upon to provide facilities for betting by telephone or email). Betting by telephone or email includes, for example, telephone voice calls, email, SMS (Short Message Service) text and instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct. This updated requirement will come into force on 1 April 2024.
In arriving at our conclusion, our primary focus has been on assessing the risk of harm (in particular for consumers who are vulnerable) as well as the benefits to consumers of clarity and uniformity of approach to self-exclusion across all forms of remote gambling, alongside the additional costs faced by gambling businesses.
In our consultation document, we explained that the GAMSTOP fees payable from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024 provided an entry point of £100 for registration and an annual fee of £785 (excluding Value Added Tax), the exception being for gambling licensees making and accepting bets by telephone and email through a remote ancillary licence attached to a Category A1 or B1 non-remote general betting (limited) operating licence, for which the annual fees would be £161 and £428 respectively.
GAMSTOP have advised that the 2024 to 2025 entry point fees, whilst not finalised, will be in close proximity to current levels. We also recognise that some gambling businesses will face additional costs in relation to purchasing bet acceptance and/or consumer accounting software that is able to successfully integrate with GAMSTOP. We engaged with a number of Business-to-Business (B2B) software gambling businesses during the consultation window and found that entry point costs varied from supplier to supplier, dependent upon what services were contained with the software package. One B2B software gambling business, that already provides software to the type of gambling business that would be brought within scope, advised that their entry point software package that would enable complete integration with GAMSTOP would cost £1,200 per year.
We considered the costs highlighted in the previous paragraph, in relation to the data we collected in 20211, to better understand the scale and type of betting activity undertaken by telephone or email. Our analysis indicates that, based on the 2021 data, the associated costs would absorb all or significant proportions of the Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) for the 23 gambling businesses that generate less than £10,000 from telephone or email betting services. We therefore recognise that a small number of gambling businesses may decide to exit the telephone or email betting market but note that their primary non-remote betting offer through premises or at tracks would be unaffected. Should this be the case, gambling businesses wishing to surrender their remote operating licence in light of the extension of Social Responsibility (SR) Code Provision 3.5.5 should consider our guidance on surrendering your operating licence and contact our Licensing team.
Whilst gambling businesses exiting the remote market for this additional form of betting over and above their primary gambling activity is a negative impact, we have concluded that on balance and in order to protect vulnerable consumers and meet the licensing objectives we should proceed as proposed.
Stakeholders, including those from industry, have highlighted the risk to vulnerable consumers of remote gambling provision that is not in the GAMSTOP scheme. Often referenced in the context of unlicensed overseas gambling businesses unlawfully targeting the British market, the same argument applies to vulnerable consumers trying to circumvent their GAMSTOP registration through licensed telephone or email gambling services. Therefore, in our view the risks to vulnerable consumers from not proceeding with this extension (for some or all gambling by this form of communication) cannot be justified.
Additionally, we consider proceeding with the extension has the benefits of:
The requirement will not apply to telephone and email betting facilities provided to gambling businesses for the purposes of hedging commercial liabilities. The change to Social Responsibility (SR) Code Provision 3.5.5 (as detailed as follows in the amended Code Provision) will come into force on 1 April 2024. This will afford impacted gambling businesses sufficient time to source new software (where required) and/or integrate with the GAMSTOP application programming interface. It also aligns to the commencement date for the new GAMSTOP annual fees cycle.
Gambling businesses seeking more information on GAMSTOP integration and fees can contact GAMSTOP directly through email at email@example.com. Furthermore, we plan to run a webinar briefing and workshop with GAMSTOP to support impacted gambling businesses with the integration process in November or December 2023.
3.5.5 - Remote multi-operator SR code
All remote licences except: any remote lottery licence the holder of which does not provide facilities for participation in instant win lotteries, ancillary remote betting when relied upon to provide facilities for betting via a machine (commonly known as self-service betting terminals) on premises where a betting or track premises licence has effect, remote general betting (remote platform), remote betting intermediary (trading room only), gaming machine technical, gambling software, host, ancillary remote bingo, and ancillary remote casino licences.
1 55 gambling licensee respondents (from a total of 110) reported that they had accepted bets through telephone or email during the period 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021. A further 12 gambling licensees declared they would accept bets using those methods.
We sought views on adding a specific reporting requirement to Licence Condition 15.2.2 - Other reportable events, which would impose a requirement on gambling businesses to notify the Gambling Commission if they become aware that a person who has gambled with them has died by suicide. The requirement would require the provision of specified information, namely the person’s name, date of birth, and a summary of their gambling activity. This would ensure that all gambling businesses are consistently reporting such information to the Commission.
Section 4 of the Commission’s Statement of principles for licensing and regulation, currently states that gambling businesses should 'disclose to the Commission anything which the Commission would reasonably expect to know' and work with the Commission in an open and cooperative way. Ordinary Code 1.1.1 - Cooperation with the Commission also states that gambling businesses should 'disclose anything which the Commission would reasonably need to be aware of in exercising its regulatory functions'.
Our expectation has always been that gambling businesses should notify us when they become aware that a person who has gambled with them has died by suicide. This enables us to assess whether regulatory intervention is required and helps to inform our ongoing consideration of policy. While some gambling businesses have notified us in this way in the past, we are aware that this has not been done consistently.
The Commission recognised in the consultation that the information provided by gambling businesses would not and cannot be used to measure suicides associated with gambling or act as a proxy for such figures. This is because gambling businesses will not always be aware when a person who has gambled with them has died by suicide and so the reported figures may not be complete, and also because the figures will not be able to tell us which suicides were associated with the customer's gambling, which is a highly complex assessment beyond the remit of gambling businesses and the Commission.
The proposed condition would mean that failing to report a relevant event to the Commission would constitute a breach of a Licence Condition and the Commission would have the power to commence regulatory action.
Gambling businesses would only be required to notify us that a person who has gambled with them has died by suicide if they themselves are aware of it.
Responses to the proposal were divided. Those in support felt that it would make gambling businesses more accountable and there were a small proportion that suggested the proposal could go further. For example, including incidents when customers talk about feeling suicidal or threaten suicide.
Those against the proposal (mainly respondents representing gambling businesses and trade bodies) felt that it was disproportionate, that the data would lack reliability and validity and that it could risk creating an unfair causal link between gambling and suicide and that it could create issues around data protection.
Some questioned why the proposal was necessary given the existing provision under Ordinary Code 1.1.1, and there was a view from some respondents that the Gambling Commission should not consider the issue until the case has been considered by a coroner or the police, and/or the coroner or police should be responsible for providing the data to the Commission. Some also commented that reporting of death by suicide is not done in any other industries such as alcohol, and that gambling was being singled out.
Support for the proposed new wording for the Licence Condition was also mixed, with some respondents concerned that the requirement would be too broad, and that the 'reasonable cause to suspect' definition would be too open to interpretation. Others felt that the regulatory burden upon gambling businesses would be too great and were unclear how gambling businesses would become aware of deaths by suicide (particularly for non-remote gambling businesses) and the extent to which they would be expected to be proactive in seeking out such information (for example, through dedicating resources to monitoring media reports).
Some respondents indicated that they could foresee difficulties for gambling businesses in complying with the proposed requirement and the main themes raised were similar to those set out in previous paragraphs. In addition, some respondents suggested a need for further guidance should the proposal come into effect.
A small number of respondents raised issues specific to society lotteries. For example, some commented that society lotteries are lower risk than other forms of gambling and that the proposal should either not apply to them or be voluntary. Others were concerned that reporting by such gambling businesses could look disproportionate given that their primary work may reside in the healthcare sector or as charities that are specifically focussing on issues around death by suicide. Two respondents also noted that there may be data protection and/or privacy issues relating to charities’ clinical data where the charity is providing support to a patient, and the patient purchases lottery products that raise funds for the charity to show their appreciation.
There were fewer responses to the question about the economic impact of the proposal. Of those that did comment, some were of the view that this would be difficult to quantify until the Commission issues further guidance, while others indicated that there would likely be cost and resource implications for gambling businesses but did not provide specific details.
We have carefully considered all of the responses to the consultation and have decided to proceed with our proposal to add the death by suicide reporting requirement to Licence Condition 15.2.2. This change to the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) will apply to all Gambling Act 2005 operating licences. The new requirement will come into force on 1 April 2024.
As death by suicide is the most severe form of gambling harms, it is both reasonable and proportionate to expect gambling businesses to report this information to the Gambling Commission once they become aware of it.
Between 2018 and 2022, the Gambling Commission was notified of eight cases of death by suicide (through a combination of gambling businesses and families). However, we are aware that notifications have not been made consistently due to our own casework and engagement.
Death by suicide can be complex and can be multifactorial. It is also a very sensitive issue for bereaved families. This is why we are not expecting gambling businesses to determine whether the person's death was caused by or connected to their gambling activity. Responsibility for establishing whether a death is by suicide is a matter for a coroner or the police to determine. However, as these investigations can take a long time to conclude, we require notification as early as possible so we can consider if there is a potential risk of regulatory failings which could further impact consumers.
While in some cases it may be appropriate to await the outcome of an inquest or investigation, in others it may be appropriate to act where there appears to be evidence of regulatory failures. In these instances, the focus of our casework is likely to be focused on the gambling business's compliance with its regulatory obligations. It may be appropriate in certain cases to liaise with other regulators, police, or coroners’ offices to ensure appropriate information sharing takes place to achieve relevant regulatory outcomes.
Having considered all of the points made by respondents, we remain of the view that the wording consulted upon is the right form of wording based on the following.
Reporting of all deaths by suicide - It will be necessary for a gambling business to notify the Commission when it becomes aware that a person who has gambled with it has died by suicide. We do not expect a gambling business to determine whether the death was related to gambling. Once reported, the Commission will consider whether it is appropriate to commence an investigation into the gambling business’s compliance with its regulatory requirements. The information provided by gambling businesses might also form part of our broader policy considerations and development.
'Reasonable cause to suspect' - Some respondents proposed that the wording 'reasonable cause to suspect' could be replaced with 'actual knowledge' of a death by suicide. Although we considered this as an alternative policy option, we were concerned that this approach could omit some of the cases that we would expect gambling businesses to report to us and/or would be more complex to establish or evidence, for example whose specific knowledge would this apply to? Similarly, it could be argued that there could not be ‘actual knowledge’ of a death by suicide until such time as a coroner had made that determination. The Commission’s position is that the use of the word 'reasonable' is an important qualification. We do not expect gambling businesses to actively investigate various sources of information but to be cognisant of developments it might become aware of and respond accordingly.
Time limit - Death by suicide is such a serious outcome that we do not consider it appropriate to apply a time limit to the reporting of this information. However, there is no expectation on gambling businesses to proactively check for historic cases as the requirement would only come into effect from when the new LCCP provision comes into force (although if gambling businesses are aware of previous cases, we would encourage them to report them to the Commission).
We are considering a review period (of 18 months to two years) to assess the data reported to us to understand if it would be beneficial to apply a time limit to the requirement. If it is clear at this point that there is no regulatory purpose served by collecting information beyond a certain timeframe, we will amend the requirement accordingly.
Remote gambling businesses typically hold more information about customers and may as a result be more likely to be in a position to make a notification. However, we still consider it appropriate for non-remote gambling businesses to be required to make such notifications.
We have also decided that this requirement is to be mandatory for society lotteries. It is important to understand the combined effect of gambling across multiple gambling businesses and products.
As to concerns about whether the data will lack reliability and validity, we refer back to the original intention of this consultation which is that the information would be collected for regulatory purposes, in two key areas:
It is not the purpose of the provision to create a comprehensive and robust data set to establish the number of deaths by suicide. We therefore do not consider the concerns expressed around data to be valid.
We have considered all of the concerns made by respondents in relation to data protection and privacy issues and are confident that the information that is to be reported to us under this new requirement is necessary and proportionate to meet the desired aim. For example, we do not require any information relating to the circumstances relating to the death by suicide or any associated medical information.
We expect gambling businesses to provide us with the deceased’s name, date of birth and a summary of their gambling activity in the first instance (if that information is available to the gambling business). It is only after reviewing this information that we will we consider whether further information about the individual and their gambling is required.
With regard to society lotteries, we would not expect a clinical team which receives information regarding a death by suicide to share this information with its lottery team for the purposes of complying with this condition.
We will implement appropriate mechanisms to ensure that any information that is collected, that does not meet the specific criteria for further investigation, will be handled securely and retained in line with the Commission's retention schedule and will not be used for an incompatible purpose.
No information about specific individuals will be put in the public domain, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example where families engage with and agree or encourage the Commission to do so for whatever reason and there is a policy imperative or other important reason or justification for doing so. To the extent anything is published in relation to this sensitive issue, for example, to explain the Commission’s policy approach, it will be suitably anonymised and/or consist of aggregated information.
The United Kingdom (UK) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 does not apply to the personal information of deceased individuals. However, the Commission would always wish to ensure that data is handled sensitively and to maintain any duty of confidentiality which may apply.
We have sought to use this response document to set out the Commission’s position on a range of issues. This includes how gambling businesses would become aware of deaths by suicides and the extent to which we would expect them to be proactive in seeking out such information. We also expect to add additional information for gambling businesses to our website.
Our assessment is that the economic impact of this new requirement on gambling businesses will be relatively modest and proportionate to its aims. We will ensure that any regulatory action, if required, will also be proportionate to the importance of the matters to which it relates.
15.2.2 - Other reportable events
All operating licences.
We consulted on a small proposal to amend the text of Licence Condition 5.1.2 - Payment methods and services, to ensure that the Licence Condition reflects the current Payment Services Regulations 2017 (opens in new tab).
We also proposed a further amendment to ensure that the condition remains current and reflects any further legislative amendments to the Payment Services Regulations that might come into force in the future. This is consistent with approaches we have taken in other areas of Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) (such as Licence Conditions 12.1.2 - Anti-money laundering - Measures for operators based in foreign jurisdictions and Licence Condition 15.2.3 - Other reportable events - money laundering, terrorist financing, etc).
We sought views through the consultation on the potential advantages and disadvantages of the proposal, and, in particular, whether updating the reference to Payment Services Regulations 2009 to the 2017 Regulations would have a negative impact on any gambling business due to the type of payment services that they use and/or any material differences between the 2009 and 2017 regulations. We concluded that the proposed changes would have no significant impact on gambling businesses and that the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (SI 2017 No 752), as amended, would appropriately maintain the intention of the original Licence Condition.
More than half of the respondents to the first question either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed change to update Licence Condition 5.1.2. A large proportion of respondents were neutral and only a very small number of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the reasons given not directly related to the proposal itself.
Just over half of respondents to the second question either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed change to update Licence Condition 5.1.2 to include wording which future proofs the Licence Condition in the event of any further legislative amendments. Most respondents did not comment further, although a small number indicated that it felt like the right thing to do. There were a small minority of respondents who raised concerns that we should be cautious about implementing the proposed wording as we cannot be certain about what might happen in the future. One respondent also highlighted the need for us to consider other emerging payment methods which may be accessible, but not necessarily licensed in the United Kingdom (UK), for example overseas debit cards or wallets.
The majority of respondents to the final question stated that they had no major concerns in relation to identifying difficulties in implementing the proposed changes, while a very small number of respondents raised issues that were not directly connected to the consultation question.
We have considered all of the responses to the consultation questions and intend to proceed with the changes to Licence Condition 5.1.2 payment methods and services as proposed. The updated requirement will come into force on 31 January 2024.
The Licence Condition was originally introduced in 2014 to ensure an appropriate standard of customer protection and controls against money laundering. The changes now mean gambling businesses must use payment service providers that meet the definition in Regulation 2 of the Payment Services Regulations 2017.
The change simply updates the existing Licence Condition to reflect the current legislative provisions and also ensures that the condition is suitably future proofed against any further simple legislative changes.
Responses did not identify any issues or difficulties for gambling businesses to comply with the proposed amendment to the condition and we are satisfied that the responses to the consultation have not identified any substantive arguments against making this change.
5.1.2 - Payment methods and services
All remote casino, bingo and betting operating licences, except ancillary, host and remote betting intermediary (trading room only) licences.
The consultation asked an additional question around any potential equalities impacts that could arise from the proposals.
Do you have any comments or evidence in relation to any potential equalities impacts of any of the proposals? In particular, do you have any concerns that any of the proposals could have a negative or disproportionate impact on persons with protected characteristics?
There were only a very small number of responses to this question and these mainly related to reiterating the principle that the consultation proposals if implemented did not have a negative impact on people with protected characteristics. This was raised as a general matter but also in relation to the specific proposals around suicide reporting.
The Gambling Commission has carefully considered the responses to the consultation questions and noted that the responses did not draw out themes or major areas of concern.
As a result of this and our ongoing considerations, we are content that there are no specific issues relating to equalities issues arising from the proposals that would prevent us from proceeding as planned.
In relation to suicide reporting, the Commission has considered issues associated with data protection and our position on this is contained within Proposal 2: Reporting of deaths by suicide to the Gambling Commission of this consultation response.