UK Gambling Commission Launches High Value Customer Consultation

  • UKGC wants views on potential changes for operators to make when dealing with VIP players
  • The regulator published a report outlining the industry's progress with VIP programs
  • An industry working group has already developed a draft code
Person pressiing gold "VIP" button
The UKGC has launched a consultation to delve into how online gaming operators deal with high value customers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Gathering information

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is seeking input on potential changes to rules governing gambling operators and their dealings with high value customers (HVC). 

raising HVC program standards

The UKGC announced the consultation on June 19 as it looks to have the industry speed up its progress for raising HVC program standards. The regulator wants feedback on potential changes to the Licence Codes and Conditions of Practice (LCCP) relating to the incentivizing and managing of HVCs. The consultation closes on August 14.

The UKGC also published a report on June 19 outlining the progress that has been made to date in this and other areas by the industry, as well as what other related steps the UKGC will take going forward. 

HVC regulatory challenges

HVCs receive a variety of perks from gambling operators, such as custom bonuses, hospitality, gifts, and preferred service. Operators offer these perks to try to keep the HVC engaged on the platform, to keep them spending money.

The UKGC has outlined two main regulatory challenges that the incentivizing and management of HVCs causes. These types of players tend to be heavily engaged in gambling in terms of gambling frequency and/or spend and thus are more at risk of suffering from gambling problems. The other challenge is the disproportionate financial value of HVCs. This can lead to issues with regulatory compliance as it can be in conflict with the short-term financial goals of operators. 

The UKGC has concerns that these challenges are not being consistently considered by licensees, resulting in repeated cases of gambling harm and the allowance of criminal proceeds to be used in gambling. For example, Betway was fined a record £11.6m ($14.35m) in March 2020 for HVC failings.

Upcoming HVC commitments

The UKGC progress update report outlined the moves the gambling industry has made to date regarding HVCs. An industry working group chaired by GVC and the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) developed a draft code on the issue. 

The code makes a number of key commitments, such as undertaking a full customer assessment before any HVC incentive is offered. This assessment would include a safe gambling check, verification of the sustainability of the HVC’s spend, a negative information review, and a Know Your Customer (KYC) check. These evaluations will be repeated on a regular basis. 

no bonuses or remuneration given to operator teams regarding the spend or loss of a HVC

There will be complete audit trails maintained by licensees regarding HVC reward programs. Each licensee will assign a board member or senior executive to account for the operation of HVC schemes. There will be no bonuses or remuneration given to operator teams regarding the spend or loss of an HVC, and there will be restrictions on players between 18 and 24 years old accessing HVC programs. 

The UKGC expects these measures to be in place within three months; their effectiveness will be regularly monitored.

The commission also announced it is working with an interim Experts by Experience Group to provide advice on VIP customers and other matters, ahead of finalizing the group’s permanent setup.