New Plan for Gambling Commission Gives Responsibility to Operators

3D illustration of "GAMBLING INDUSTRY" title on business document

The Gambling Commission has published its three-year plan, due to run from 2018 until 2021, that puts the emphasis back on operators to make gambling safer for consumers.

The Gambling Commission is a UK government agency established to protect consumers and the public by introducing and enforcing gaming-related regulation while also protecting the interests of gaming companies.

Main focus

The new strategy keeps the same principles at its core but has been developed to provide advice to the government about laws affecting the industry. The commission’s main aims are to prevent children and vulnerable people from having access to gaming or being harmed by it, to ensure that gambling is open and fair, and to prevent gambling from being a source of criminal activity. The commission is also responsible for regulating the National Lottery, and its plan outlines strategies designed to protect players’ best interests.

Trust on the decline

According to research carried out by the Gambling Commission, the UK public’s trust in gambling is falling. It found that 78% of people thought that there were too many opportunities to gamble in 2017 and 69% thought gaming was dangerous to family life.

Rates of so-called “problem gambling” remain stable, despite measures to help reduce the numbers of vulnerable people gaining access to gambling opportunities.

More responsibilities for operators

The commission now suggests a more dynamic approach to preventing vulnerable people from gaming, with the emphasis being placed more on the operators themselves taking action instead of emphasizing a self-exclusion policy like Malta’s.

Illegal gambling is also present in the UK. The commission plans to tackle that part of the problem in the coming cycle, specifically illegal gambling that is accessible to children. The chairman of the Gambling Commission, William Moyes, said the plan “represents a significant step forward in addressing the many issues we, the industry, government, and society must tackle effectively and without delay if the UK is to have a gambling culture that treats the consumer more fairly and tackles gambling-related harm more seriously and thus increases confidence in the integrity of the sector.”

Adjusting to Brexit

The commission also outlined plans to revise regulations related to the collection, analysis, and sharing of intelligence across different government agencies and jurisdictions, especially in light of the UK’s impending departure from the European Union.

These updates are all the more crucial due to the continuous growth of online gambling on digital platforms. The commission has said it will seek to allow companies and consumers to take full advantage of technological innovations, but that they will also be managed to ensure that people’s rights are safeguarded.

Moyes said: “We’ll be identifying ways to give more power and control to consumers to manage their gambling in a way that works for them. We’ll also continue to review and strengthen the rules to tackle unfair terms and misleading practices.”

The commission also acknowledged the importance of lottery funding for charities and will look at ways to ensure that new regulations and other updates do not have a negative impact on that source of revenue.

Compliance for companies

The commission hopes to implement changes that will lead to a shift in the culture at the top of companies, setting the tone with senior management and ensuring the message follows down to consumer-facing staff.

Its plans depend on companies being willing to raise standards to consistently act in consumers’ best interest and reducing the prevalence of harmful gambling.

There are plans to make the industry more transparent by making independently collected data available to the public to help them to make informed decisions before engaging with gambling.

It will also review rules surrounding misleading practices, specifically misrepresentation, and will be looking to give consumers more resources to take action if they come across unfair practices.

Operators may also be required to use the data they collect to help manage trouble gambling, Moyes said: “Companies also need to use the extensive data they hold to understand how to identify players who are developing gambling behavior that is likely to become problematic, and how to help them change before their problem becomes unmanageable.”

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