In April 2023, the UK government published its White Paper setting out a plan for reform of gambling regulation following a review of the Gambling Act 2005.
The Gambling Commission consulted on the first set of proposed changes earlier this year. It says that it is currently analysing the consultation responses and will update in 2024.
It has now issued a second consultation on more proposed changes to the regulatory framework.
Socially responsible incentives
The Gambling Commission wants to ensure that incentives such as free bets and bonuses are constructed in a socially responsible manner and do not encourage excessive or harmful gambling. Therefore, it is consulting on proposals to ban or place limits on the use of wagering requirements in promotional offers and a proposal to ban the mixing of product types (for example, betting, bingo, casino and lotteries) within incentives. It is also consulting on changes to licence conditions to make it explicit that incentives should be constructed in a manner that does not lead to excessive or harmful gambling.
The Commission has also been exploring the role of customer-led tools as part of its wider work on online protections, including considering how easy it is to set and keep meaningful account limits. It is consulting on proposed changes to the Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards with the aim of ensuring that consumers who want to make use of pre-commitment tools such as deposit limits can do so easily, in ways that work for them and with the minimum of friction.
It also seeks views about consumer ability to choose limits across accounts held by multiple operators, and on any concerns or specific examples where consumer decision-making has been influenced or encouraged by using friction or other barriers.
Improved transparency on customer funds in the event of insolvency
The Commission also wants to ensure it is clear to consumers throughout their relationship with a gambling licensee with a “not protected” rating that their funds are not protected.
Changes to the frequency of regulatory returns submissions
The Commission is consulting on introducing a requirement for all regulatory returns to be submitted quarterly. This aims to provide a timelier and more accurate picture of the gambling sector.
Removing obsolete Commission requirements due to the government’s upcoming statutory levy
The government recently published its consultation on a statutory levy on gambling licensees and once the statutory levy is brought into force, it will replace the current system for funding research, prevention and treatment (“RET”) where the amounts raised are voluntary. The Commission currently requires gambling licensees to make an annual financial contribution to one or more organisations providing RET. That requirement in the licensing conditions will become obsolete and so it is consulting on removing it once a levy is introduced or at the beginning of the financial year in which a levy is introduced.
The consultation ends on 21 February 2024.
The Commission has also issued a consultation about “business as usual” matters. It proposes changes to the Commission's requirements on gambling businesses for reporting through the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and one of the proposed changes relating to reporting would also be reflected in its Licensing, Compliance and Enforcement Policy Statement. The consultation also makes proposals for a revised Statement of Principles for Determining Financial Penalties which would also be reflected in the Commission's Indicative Sanctions Guidance. The consultation ends on 15 March 2024.
We want to ensure that incentives such as free bets and bonuses are constructed in a socially responsible manner and do not encourage excessive or harmful gambling.