UKGC Issues New Directive for Handling At-Risk Customers

  • The UKGC referenced current license conditions and code of practice
  • The plan offers a three-step process to identifying, interacting, and evaluating 
  • The new rules will take effect on September 12, 2022
  • Gambling agencies must comply with the rules or face punishment
Gambling Commission logo on top of a keyboard
The UKGC released rules for how gambling companies should handle at-risk customers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Minimizing risk

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has introduced rules operators must follow to identify and assist at-risk gamblers.

These guidelines were released Thursday as a product of a consultation report that outlined more rigorous standards for company-customer interaction. The report referenced current license conditions and code of practice (LCCP) for operators, which says companies must “interact in a way which minimises the risk of customers experiencing harms associated with gambling.”

companies are not being “sufficiently curious” about determining at-risk parties

The report revealed that not all companies have met these standards; or, as they put it, companies are not being “sufficiently curious” about determining at-risk parties or ​​“acting sufficiently quickly or effectively to minimise harm” to these individuals.

Changing the procedure

Thursday’s reveal included a new three-step approach to identifying, interacting with, and evaluating customers. The UKGC’s new rules will come into effect on September 12, 2022.

This approach will become central to gambling operators hoping to avoid punishments from the UK government. Companies will track at-risk parties by monitoring spending amounts, rate of wagers, patterns and time spent gambling, behavior, customer-led contact, use of management tools, and account indicators.

Gambling agencies will also have to mark red flags and respond in a “timely” manner.

Gambling agencies will also have to mark red flags and respond in a “timely” manner. Moreover, companies will have to create automated responses to identify and evaluate those at risk of harm.

The new stipulations will appease gambling critics in the United Kingdom at multiple levels. One of the bigger gambling-related stories of the year was 20 English Football Championship League (EFL) and non-league teams banding together to petition against soccer teams partnering with gambling sponsors.

The UKGC’s decision

A major consideration during the UKGC’s debate was the targeted advertising directed towards at-risk persons. 

Sky Vegas was recently fined £1.17m ($1.53m) for sending free bets marketing communications to 41,395 self-excluded residents in 2021. Situations like this were paramount in the UKGC reaching its verdict on the matter.

This particular regulation is stringent and must be upheld with regular checkups and evaluations sent to the UKGC.

“Time and time again our enforcement cases show that some operators are still not doing enough to prevent gambling harm,” Gambling Commission chief executive officer Andrew Rhodes said. “These new rules, developed following an extensive consultation, make our expectations even more explicit.”

there will be punishments for companies that do not comply with the new rules

In addition, there will be punishments for companies that do not comply with the new rules.

“We expect operators to identify and tackle gambling harms with fast, proportionate and effective action and we will not hesitate to take tough action on operators who fail to do so,” Rhodes continued.

The UKGC received roughly 13,000 replies to the consultation and ideas laid forth; the commission said that it considered each response during the drafting period.