The Gambling Act Review began all the way back in late 2020. But with the publishing of the paper having been pushed back several times despite pressure from the regulator rising, and rumours that the unsettled Government may abandon the review, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at the review and the state of play in the industry at present.
Delay After Delay
As we approach nearly 2 years since the gambling act UK was announced to be reviewed and republished by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), the pressure for them to release the highly anticipated white paper continues to grow. More and more we are hearing of operators being fined for player protection and social responsibility failings, and without clearer guidance from the operator on how to prevent these fines, the trend is set to continue.
The Gambling Act Review has now been pushed back multiple times, with latest delay relating to the announcement that Boris Johnson was to step down as Prime Minister.
Since 2016, over £150 million in fines has been imposed on UK Betting Companies by the UKGC. Clearly there is a disconnect between what operators believe is an acceptable safer gambling process and how the regulation is communicated by the UKGC.
The UK is the leading geographic area driving the next generation of player protection initiatives. Rapidly growing markets such as the USA which has a projected CAGR of 11.7% during the forecast period of 2022-2030 is looking to the UK for guidance. Ultimately, the UKGC has the eyes of the world on it to release their findings and finally supply updated regulation.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
Despite the consistent flow of fines from the UKGC to operators, there really are some amazing initiatives taking place around the industry from operators, affiliates, and suppliers.
Just this year alone, at events such as ICE London and SBC Summit Barcelona, there has been a centralised focus on safer gambling being a priority and a sense of collaboration amongst the industry to solve various problems associated with the industry at present.
UK companies such as Gamstop are revolutionising player protection initiatives by allowing individuals who are self-aware in their problem gambling to place themselves on cross operator self-exclusion lists.
But what the industry really requires a set of regulation for operators to follow. Much of the work operators are doing into developing their player protection initiatives would be a lot more straight forward if they were able to follow clear guidance.
From our own experience, operators are no longer seeing player protection as a tick box exercise but are now interested in developing a system to truly protect their players whilst mitigating any adverse impact on their own business goals.
How The Industry Can Move Forwards
The main issue with sitting back and waiting for the finalised review to be published is that the industry is constantly developing and growing.
Online betting has become the norm and most popular method of consumers accessing gambling services, and with the FIFA World Cup on the horizon which will again likely lead to a huge influx in players betting and signing up to new brands, the industry cannot afford to stand still and wait.
As mentioned above, the industry has so much resource to pull together to enact real change. Instead of the responsibility simply lying on the shoulders of the regulator, the whole industry from operators, vendors, suppliers, regulators and more needs to come together.
At W2, we play a small part in a wider player protection journey. Our newly released affordability solution has had astoundingly positive feedback from the industry with many operators interested in developing it for their specific use case. Combining that with W2’s source of funds verification tool can allow operators to identify at risk customers at onboarding, avoiding fines and suspensions and keeping their customers safe.
Gambling Act Review: What Happens Next
The latest official guidance from the UKGC came into effect on 12 September 2022 has a primary focus on ensuring operators identify gambling related harm and act in a timely manner. Other guidance includes preventing marketing and bonuses fair at risk customers and to perform a full in-depth analysis into their player protection processes.
The next phase of the process which should currently be under way will involve the UKGC implementing measures to identify financially vulnerable customers and tackling unaffordable gambling.
The interest in W2’s new affordability solution is proof that operators are interested in more than a tick box regulatory exercise. Wanting to test the solution and have discussions around it before guidance from the regulator is officially released shows that they show a real level of care for their customers and the compliance of their business.
Unfortunately, 2 years on from the announcement which brought a lot of hope to the industry, fines are higher than they have ever been and the disconnect between the regulator and operators is clear to see.
But both parties and all stakeholders concerned in the task at hand remain committed to enacting real change for the future of the industry.
More can be done but we are confident that more will be done.
If you are interested in discussing W2’s affordability, source of funds verification, or any onboarding solutions please contact us here.