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UKGC intensifies consumer protection

Is the UK gambling industry on the brink? In recent months, the adjustments to guidelines by the UK Gambling Commission have often caused sleepless nights for gambling providers. Too often severe restrictions have already been put in place. A working group of the authority recently announced that they wanted to introduce new consumer protection measures. The main focus should be on improved advertising guidelines and stricter age checks. The industry has even welcomed the reforms.

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The British Gaming Authority has already intensified its advertising guidelines and consumer protection in recent months. This path will continue in 2020.(©whekevi/Pixabay)

UKGC working group confirms new guidelines

Hardly any other Gambling Authority monitors its own market as closely as theUK Gambling Commission from Great Britain. The authority had already presented an intensive "timetable" in recent years. Consisting of the topics that you would like to deal with in particular detail. This timetable was recently expanded to include two additional "stops". According to a working group of the British authority,new consumer protection measures will be introduced. The new guidelines should include reforms in marketing, but also stricter age checks on players. Basically, the goal is to try to curb problematic ways of playing more.

UKGC chief Neil McArthur said in announcing the new guidelines that actions speak louder than words. One would thereforein the guideline reform turn to numerous relevant areas and topics.

VIP players must be at least 25 years old

According to their own statements, the authority's working group is primarily considering the providers' VIP programs. To this end, new rules for age restrictions are to be implemented as a first step. Specifically, this means:VIP players should be at least 25 years old in the future. Applicants for a VIP rank must also be examined much more intensively by the casinos in the future. This includes an analysis of the gaming behavior and a control of the funds used. Any decision regarding VIP rank must also be documented by an officer of the company. In addition, the game intensity on the slot machines should be significantly reduced. It is said that one could agree with many well-known industry representatives thateach roller rotation must last at least 2.5 seconds. In Kenya, the requirement is even stricter. At least five seconds per game round on the machine are required here.

Also similar to Kenya, the buttons and keys of the slot machines are also on the "list" of the authorities. Previously, special functions could be triggered with keys such asTurbo buttons, split screens or slam stops. These must be removed from the machines in the future, as otherwise there are fears that customers will be encouraged to play more intensively. This in turn could lead to a “potential loss of control”, according to the authority. Chief McArthur announced that these adjustments shouldjust be the first steps. He explained:

“By working with the operators and getting the opinions of people who have been affected by gaming damage, we have been able to make significant progress. But there is still more work to be done.”

Small number of VIPs brings big sales

The additional requirements are quite uncomfortable for the British gambling companies. Especially with regard to the VIP players' trials. The reason: These are considered the cornerstones of the UK gambling industry. In a January study, the UK Gambling Authority found thatOnly two percent of all players are listed as VIP players. However, this vanishingly small proportion accounts for83 percent of the total deposits. The authority explains:

“The operators must improve their interactions with the VIPs. We challenged the industry to make faster progress. In addition, we have taken vigorous measures against operators who do not adequately protect consumers and we will take even tougher action if behavior does not change."

Together with various industry sizes, the new working group is now to ensure that the new guidelines for player protection are established. According to the authorities,more than 30 leading corporations in the country will be there. These includePlaytech, Sky Betting and Gaming or GVC Holdings.

Less advertising in the future?

In addition to the adjustments relating to player protection, the industry is apparently also expecting changed guidelines in marketing. The working group decided that theamount of online advertising in the social networks should be significantly reduced. The main focus here is on advertising that can be seen by vulnerable adults, children or young people. According to the authorities, this includes a new list with so-called negative search terms. Young people should also be better protected from gambling advertising by not placing them specifically on social media platforms based on user data. The authority stated that they expect anew code of conduct in this context, which will be updated regularly and to which all members of the industry will adhere equally.

The gaming authority also places a special focus on a so-called adtech forum, which is to be set up across all sectors. As it is said, the focus should be continuously placed on further measures with which thesecurity standards can be adapted to new technologies. In this context, UKGC boss McArthur insists on rapid implementation:

“The Gambling Commission believes that while some progress has already been made, this work now needs to be pushed further and faster. We are tackling these challenges to create real and rapid change for consumers in key areas. However, it is important that these obligations are implemented as quickly as possible.”

Encouragement from the industry

In this context, the authority's working group secured an endorsement from the BGC gambling association. This also confirmed thatsome important progress could be made. Regarding the current measures, the President of the Association, Brigid Simmonds said:

“Together with the recently announced 10-point plan of action against Covid-19, these measures will significantly change and improve the gaming environment for customers. We agree with the Gaming Authority that there is still more work to be done and we must address the ongoing challenge.”

Coming Steps of the Working Group Looking together with the top of the industry remains to be seen. However, it is already gratifying that the industry and the authorities are looking together in the same direction.

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The article was published on April 8th, 2020 in the cpaws-ov.org magazine under the keywords,,,,,, Published.
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