The Gambling Commission has dropped the affordability cap from its remote customer interaction review priorities.
In her address at the Shard Financial Vulnerability Summit 2021, the Commission’s Acting Joint Chief Executive Sarah Gardner revealed that the regulator will instead focus on curbing clearly unaffordable losses.
“Our immediate action will be focused on preventing the types of cases we still see too much of in our casework,” said Sarah Gardner.
“In particular this will tackle where operators have allowed people to gamble amounts that are clearly unaffordable, with very limited or no customer interaction until a very late stage; we will act to prevent harm to those who are financially vulnerable,’’ she added.
Among the caseworks cited in the speech is an online casino client who lost £16,500 over a seven-hour session, and the only time the operator interacted with the customer was to confirm payment from a new card.
According to Gardner, such cases can be prevented by introducing requirements that compel operators to act at more appropriate levels.
The Gambling Commission’s Acting Joint Chief Executive further reiterated that reducing gambling-related harm and risk is not just a ‘’short-term project with quick fixes’’. She noted that it will take the collective effort of various industry stakeholders, including operators, to protect those who are vulnerable to gambling harms and risk.
According to the Commission’s latest participation and problem gambling prevalence data for the year ended March 2021, the overall population problem gambling rate dropped from 0.6% to 0.4% over the past year. The figures for low-risk rate and moderate risk rate also dipped from 2.7% to 1.9% and 1.5% to 0.6%, respectively.
Data collected over the past five years also indicates a significant decline in the rate of at-risk gamblers within the period.
However, Gardner has stated that the Commission will not lower its guard or relent in its quest to make gambling safer for UK punters despite the progress. In the same breath, the regulator has urged stakeholders to see the advancement as an opportunity to build up momentum in the fight against problem gambling.
Plans to roll-out Single Customer View are underway. The initiative, which the GC terms as a silver bullet in tackling gambling-related harm, kicked off in February 2020.
The aim of the project is to leverage technology to create a universal solution that will provide industry operators with a full picture of a punter’s gambling behaviour. This will make it possible for operators to keep tabs on a customer’s activity across multiple betting platforms and apply behavioural analysis tools to identify at-risk players.
In her speech at the Financial Vulnerability Summit, the Commission’s Acting Joint Chief Executive revealed that the regulator is working with the Information Commissioner’s Office to create a legal framework for the project. The consultations involve ensuring the safety and security of consumer data. The GC is also collaborating and partnering with gambling operators to develop the technology to test and launch the project.
The rollout is set to commence as soon as the consultations are concluded.
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