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New Gambling rules "boosting safety and consumer choice" Published Date: 03/05/2024

The Gambling Commission has announced widespread changes aimed at increasing safety and customer choice.

The changes, consistent with the Government’s White Paper High stakes: gambling reform for the digital age (opens in new tab), include reducing intensity of online games, improving consumer choice over receiving gambling marketing, light-touch financial vulnerability checks and tightening processes to support age verification checks in premises.

They also include a "careful" approach to implementation with the changes to be implemented in four stages: August 2024, November 2024, January 2025 and February 2025.

Having listened to consumers, the Commission will conduct a pilot of frictionless financial risk assessments that are aimed at preventing cases where customers were able to spend large amounts in short spaces of time without any checks resulting in significant gambling harm.

Consumers will not be affected during a pilot period to make sure that the Commission can refine the data sharing processes before the assessments are rolled out in a live environment.

Andrew Rhodes, Gambling Commission CEO, said:

“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.

“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 Commission pilot is expected to last six months. Following the pilot, the Commission will decide whether permanent rules will be implemented but this will not be done until the data-sharing is frictionless for the vast majority of customers who are checked.

In the meantime the Commission has welcomed a new Betting and Gaming Council interim measure (opens in new tab) which is designed to reduce the need for customers to provide documents where that is not necessary.

Financial vulnerability checks and frictionless financial risk assessments

The aim of the introduction of financial vulnerability checks and our next steps on piloting financial risk assessments is to give people the opportunity to gamble safely, while protecting people from gambling-related harm.

Our response confirms the introduction of light-touch financial vulnerability checks, and a pilot of enhanced frictionless financial risk assessments. In line with the Government’s white paper aims, these enhanced checks will only be introduced if the pilot proves they can be done in a frictionless manner, based on data-sharing.

This will help to cut down on cases where operators have:

  • failed to take account of a customer’s bankruptcy and letting them gamble without any safeguards
  • enabled a customer to spend £245,000 in three months despite knowing she was an NHS nurse earning just £30,000 
  • enabled a customer to lose £70,000 over 10 hours just a day after opening the account 
  • given a customer they knew was earning £1,400 a month a monthly deposit cap of £1,300. 

Light touch financial risk checks – two stage implementation

The Commission is implementing proposals aimed at better identification of acutely financially vulnerable online customers, identifying and supporting customers such as those subject to bankruptcy orders or those with a history of unpaid debts.

It will do this through light touch financial vulnerability checks for those customers with a net deposit of more than £150 a month on gambling.

They will focus solely on publicly available data and, following feedback through consultation, will not require gambling businesses to consider an individual’s personal details such as postcode or job title.

To ease introduction these checks will initially come into force at £500 a month from 30 August 2024 before reducing to £150 a month from 28 February 2025.

A pilot of frictionless financial risk assessments

Financial risk assessments were proposed in order to deliver consistent, frictionless processes to assess risk of harm of gambling in the context of the financial circumstances of the highest spending online accounts.

Following consultation feedback the Commission will carry out a pilot to test the details of frictionless assessments in practice, work with credit reference agencies and gambling businesses, and examine potential consumer impact. Through data collection, the Commission will also explore the exact financial thresholds the assessments would be conducted at.

The assessments are not being rolled out in a live environment.

Neither the light touch checks nor the financial risk assessment pilot will affect consumer credit ratings.

Remote games design – reducing intensity and increasing consumer understanding

New rules will reduce the speed and intensity of online products while making them fairer and increasing consumer understanding about game play.

It will extend requirements that already apply to slots to other online products and will ban:

  • features which speed up the time for a result to be shown or can give the illusion of control such as ‘turbo’ or ‘slam stops’
  • autoplay
  • audio or visual celebrations of returns less than or equal to stake
  • operator-led functionality which facilitates playing multiple simultaneous products such as roulette and blackjack tables
  • casino games spin speeds of less than 5 seconds, excluding peer-to-peer poker.

Further changes include requiring operators to display to consumers in real time their net spend and time they have spent gambling.

These changes will come into force on 17 January 2025.

Direct marketing - improving consumer choice

Gambling businesses will need 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 aim is to empower customers by giving them more control over the direct gambling marketing they wish to receive and ensure they do not receive marketing that they do not want.

This requirement applies to online gambling only and will come into force on 17 January 2025.

Age verification – tightening verification in premises

The Commission will 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 new elements of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) will come into effect on 30 August 2024.

Personal management licenses – extension of roles

Personal Management Licence holders play an important role in ensuring gambling within businesses is safe, fair and crime-free.

Following consultation, the Commission has clarified and extended the operator staff management roles expected to hold a personal management licence.

These new and amended provisions come into force on 30 November 2024.

Read the full Commission Summer 2023 consultation response.