The UK’s Gambling Commission is poised to crack down on gambling companies that advertise they are “not on GAMSTOP”, the national self-exclusion service, a commission official has said.
Executive director Tim Miller called the practice “especially insidious” because the websites and their affiliates target those who have tried to escape problematic gambling habits.
“Even well-known publications like Reader’s Digest have been promoting such sites in their paid content and have ignored requests from us to remove it,” Miller said.
The regulator also plans to put pressure on jurisdictions that license such operators, he said, without giving details.
Miller was speaking on Monday (February 6) at the World Regulatory Briefing at ICE Vox, which preceded the annual ICE London gambling show opening today at the ExCeL Centre.
Miller declined to give more details about the regulator’s crackdown on companies blatantly pitching to those who have declared an intention to stop gambling, and would not name other media or social media that it has contacted.
“We don’t want to inadvertently assist those seeking to avoid GAMSTOP,” he said.
In his speech, Miller called for more cooperation among regulators, saying that online gambling interests have become global technology companies whose operations are difficult for a single jurisdiction to fully grasp.
The commission will scrutinise licensees using products that blur the boundaries around gambling, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies and so-called synthetic shares, Miller said.
Synthetic shares are trading options meant to mirror the effect of buying a stock.
The Gambling Commission is not necessarily looking to regulate these products, but is “vigilant” on them and any licensee that gets involved in such products. “We will likely have questions for them,” Miller said.
Other changes call for more cooperation, he said.
Consolidation means that the top three UK-focused operators have boosted their market share from a third to a half in the past five years, Miller said. The top ten operators now represent 77 percent of consumer-facing gross gaming yield.
Merger deals are getting bigger and more complicated, necessitating greater attention from regulators, Miller said.
Illegal gambling is also a complicated issue.
“Legitimate, licensed operators from one jurisdiction can actually be the illegal or black market in another,” he said.
No single regulator can be the “world police”, but regulators who cooperate can discuss bad practices and bad behaviour, Miller said.
“No operator should want to be in this position,” he added. “No operator should want to be the subject of discussion between regulators in different parts of the world.”