Home » UKGC unveils wide-ranging changes across UK gambling industry, including “light touch” financial risk checks | Yogonet International

UKGC unveils wide-ranging changes across UK gambling industry, including “light touch” financial risk checks | Yogonet International

The Gambling Commission announced Wednesday widespread changes across the UK industry. The measures include reducing the intensity of online games, improving consumer choice over receiving gambling marketing, “light-touch” financial vulnerability checks, and tightening processes to support age verification checks on premises.

With the intention of “boosting safety and choice for consumers”, the new measures will be implemented in four stages: August 2024, November 2024, January 2025, and February 2025. 

To smooth the transition process as much as possible, the financial risk checks will initially come into force at £500 a month from August 30, 2024, before reducing to £150 a month from February 28, 2025. 

Following consultation feedback, the Commission will conduct a pilot to test the details of frictionless financial risk assessments in practice, working with credit reference agencies and gambling businesses and examining potential consumer impact.

The financial risk checks are aimed at preventing cases where customers were able to spend large amounts in short spaces of time without any assessments, thus resulting in significant gambling harm. 

The initial pilot period will involve the UK industry’s largest operators, providing the UKGC with a bigger understanding of their impact. 

Furthermore, new rules will also impact game design, reducing the speed and intensity of online slots, as the UKGC underlines it is seeking to make them “fairer and increasing consumer understanding about the gameplay”. 

The new measures are also ending operator-led functionalities that facilitate playing multiple simultaneous products such as roulette and blackjack tables. Slam stops will also be curtailed as a result of the guidelines. 

Rules that currently apply to online slots will also be applied to other games, eradicating audio or visual celebrations of returns less than or equal to stake. These additional changes will come into force on January 17, 2025. 

Furthermore, changes around marketing will be implemented, with operators being required to provide customers with options to opt-in to the product type they are interested in receiving and the channels through which they wish to receive marketing.

The Commission will also introduce new rules which mean all gambling land-based licensees, including smaller licensees, must carry out age verification test purchasing. It will also change the good practice code to say licensees should have procedures that require their staff to check the age of any customer who appears to be under 25 years of age, rather than under 21 years of age. These additional changes will come into force on August 30, 2024

Andrew Rhodes

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission CEO, commented: “As a gambling regulator it’s vital that the introduction of new rules is based on evidence and takes into account the views of consumers and other interested parties. We have listened to the views expressed in our engagement and in the consultation responses, and we have made changes while still ensuring that we deliver meaningful protections.”

We are also pleased to be taking forward a pilot of financial risk assessments and data collection, which together will ensure that we can make informed decisions about how these assessments can be implemented in a way that supports both consumer freedom and protections,” he explained.

We have to get the balance right between protecting people from the potentially life-ruining effects of gambling-related harm and respecting the freedom of adults to engage in an activity that the vast majority do so without experiencing harm,” the CEO concluded.

Earlier this week, the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council announced a new voluntary industry Code on Customer Checks, which will “raise standards while reducing the need for requests for private financial documents,” according to a press release. 

The new Industry Voluntary Code on Customer Checks sets out what interactions a BGC operator must take when customers wish to make net deposits of more than £5,000 in a rolling month and when they wish to make net deposits of £25,000 in any rolling 12-month period.

Under this Voluntary Industry Code, only customers wishing to spend over £25,000 in any rolling 12-month period may have to provide financial documents to demonstrate they are not at financial risk.

Michael Dugher, BGC CEO and Acting Chair, said: “This Code is good progress toward solving an issue that has generated such heated public debate. It will significantly increase the consistency of safer gambling standards while removing intrusive document checks for many who are currently subject to detailed checks.”

“I wish to see a new Code on Anti-Money Laundering Checks to complement this Code on Customer Checks to further raise standards on consistency and reduce the disproportionate need for document requests, rightly ensuring that betting with our members remains free from crime,” he added.