The Gambling Commission has announced widespread changes to gambling rules, which it says are aimed at increasing safety and customer choice.

The changes follow the UK government’s White Paper and the Commission's subsequent consultation and 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.

Light touch financial vulnerability 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 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 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 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.

In the meantime the Commission has welcomed a new Betting and Gaming Council Code on Customer Checks which is designed to reduce the need for customers to provide documents.

Remote games design – reducing intensity and increasing consumer understanding

New rules will reduce the speed and intensity of online products with the aim of making them fairer and increasing consumer understanding about game play. It 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; and
  • casino games spin speeds of less than five 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 

Gambling businesses will be required 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 give customers 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, which reflects the rules already in place for alcohol. These rules will come into effect on 30 August 2024.

Personal management licenses – extension of roles

Following consultation, the Commission has clarified and extended the operator staff management roles expected to hold a personal management licence. These rules come into force on 30 November 2024.