Industry Must Consider UK Consultation Implications, Says Lawyer

August 1, 2023
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It is “crucial” that the UK gambling industry understand and respond to the impact of the white paper consultation proposals launched last week, according to a legal expert.

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It is “crucial” that the UK gambling industry understand and respond to the impact of the white paper consultation proposals launched last week, according to a legal expert.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and the Gambling Commission consultations are an “important step” towards more clarity on regulatory requirements and cover “key” areas of the changes set out in the white paper, according to Melanie Ellis, a partner at Northridge Law.

The first round of reviews includes the DCMS considering setting online stake limits at between £2 and £15 per spin and options to introduce greater protections when playing slots for 18 to 24 year-olds.

Additionally, the Gambling Commission is consulting on financial risk checks conducted at £125 net loss within a rolling 30-day period or £500 within a rolling 365-day period.

The regulator has also proposed enhanced checks to apply where losses are greater than £1,000 within a rolling 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days. It also proposes that the triggers for enhanced assessments should be lower for those aged 18 to 24.

“The commission is likely to implement the proposals for financial risk checks as drafted unless any significant issues come to light from the responses it receives, on the other hand, the government apparently remains open-minded on where the exact limit for online slots should be set, although seems to be leaning towards either a £5 or £10 limit,” Ellis told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“It is crucial that gambling operators and game providers now consider the practical implications of the proposals for their businesses and respond to the parts of the consultations that are relevant to them, particularly if they are aware of potential unintended consequences of the suggested changes,” Ellis said.

Steve Ketteley​, a partner at law firm Wiggin, has also said that the significance of these consultations “can not be overstated”.

“The challenge now for the regulator, the industry and the consumer is to identify a clear framework that determines what actually happens at those thresholds.

“How ‘invasive’ should checks be? What form does ‘intervention’ need to take? How often does an operator need to interact with customers to ensure what they know about them remains current, valid and adequate to allow them to carry on playing,” Ketteley​ asked.

A clearer picture of how the checks will be undertaken is starting to emerge.

Tom Eaves, head of customer success at ClearStake, a company that offers financial risk checks, believes it is “encouraging to see that the consultation reaffirms that, for enhanced assessment in particular, decisions must be based on income and expenditure data, including current account turnover data”.

“Ultimately, such an approach is the only way to consistently protect players, but also build a sustainable, profitable gambling industry for the medium and long term,” he told VIXIO.

Eaves said that currently open banking is “the only way” for customers to share this data with operators in a simple and secure manner, and remain in control of that data.

“Other options may become available down the line — that is ultimately a matter of faith — but regardless, open banking will still remain the most accurate, universal and efficient way to manage the process of sharing that data. With its inclusion in the consultation, we expect to see widespread adoption of open banking due diligence solutions in the near future,” Eaves said.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has given the go-ahead to the Gambling Commission’s single customer view (SCV) and financial risk assessment projects.

This means it is the ICO’s view that credit reference agencies can share personal information with gambling operators without breaching data protection laws.

The ICO expects gambling operators to have “robust safeguards” to ensure the data they receive from credit reference agencies is analysed correctly and stored securely.

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