UK Changes Target Cross Selling, Seek Consistency On Checks

May 2, 2024
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New changes to UK Gambling Commission licensing rules combine with a voluntary industry code to make changes, including making cross-selling trickier, and an aim to ensure consistency in financial risk checks.
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New changes to UK Gambling Commission licensing rules combine with a voluntary industry code to make changes, including making cross-selling trickier, and an aim to ensure consistency in financial risk checks.

A new Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) code will set procedures for interaction when a player tries to make a net deposit of more than £5,000 in a rolling month or £25,000 in a rolling year.

Only those trying to deposit more than £25,000 in a rolling year would need to supply documents to demonstrate they can afford their bets, according to the BGC.

They are meant to be interim procedures until the full financial risk assessments planned by the commission can be implemented, the trade group said.

The BGC is also working with the Gambling Commission to develop a code for anti-money laundering (AML) checks, which could also trigger requests for documents.

The changes were announced on Wednesday (May 1) as part of plans to implement policy directions outlined in the April 2023 government white paper.

A columnist for the Racing Post, which launched a reader campaign to protest the financial risk checks, then called “affordability checks”, called the BGC’s voluntary code a “hard-won victory”.

The racing industry claims thousands of race bettors have been inconvenienced by the checks, with high-rollers enticed by offshore companies.

When first floated, the checks were suggested to start at £100 per month, so the £5,000 and £25,000 levels are a “step in the right direction”, said columnist Tom Kerr.

“The new thresholds, high as they are compared to the white paper proposals, will still catch the high-staking punters on which racing's income is disproportionately reliant,” he said.

Julie Harrington, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), praised the increased threshold for risk checks, but said the industry wanted to see the planned rules for AML checks.

Financial risk checks for online gamblers will seek to determine through publicly available information whether gamblers are subject to bankruptcy orders or have histories of unpaid debts, according to the regulator.

The checks will start initially on August 30 at a net deposit of £500 per month, then reduce to £150 a month from February 28, the commission said.

Tim Miller, the Gambling Commission's executive director for policy and research, said the regulator tried to respond to industry concerns by rolling out the extensive package of changes over four to nine months rather than over three months, as has been typical.

Separate from the “light-touch” risk checks, the commission will roll out a six-month pilot programme of enhanced risk checks on big spenders.

It will focus first on historic data for inactive accounts, then active accounts, followed by live data, Miller said.

The gambling companies will not get detailed financial spending, mostly data supplied by credit agencies, Miller said.

“They won’t see that you spent £20 at Sainsbury’s”, he said, and occupation and postal codes will not be part of the evaluation.

Other changes aim to end the “illusion of control”, with planned bans on “turbo”  or “slam stops” features in online casino games such as roulette, extending rules already in place for online slots.

Another planned change will force companies to allow consumers to opt into gambling products and marketing methods rather than opt-out.

That would appear to put a potential damper on British betting companies’ saturation marketing during big sporting events such as the Grand National horse race or football’s World Cup.

Companies seek to entice consumers with attractive bets with the aim of diverting them to more profitable casino games.

The goal is to give consumers more choice, Miller said.

“If they don’t want those offers, they don’t have to receive them,” he said.

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