Home NewsRegulations & Licenses As consultations timeline is confirmed, GC prepares for the affordability pilot

As consultations timeline is confirmed, GC prepares for the affordability pilot

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The GB Gambling Commission revealed its next steps in the consultation process for the whitepaper on the Gambling Act Review, which includes a pilot program for checking affordability.

The Commission announced today (1 May) a timetable for the implementation of the initial four proposals.

  • Risk and financial vulnerability
  • Online games design;
  • Direct marketing: improving consumer choice
  • Age verification is strengthened in all land-based establishments.

Changes will be implemented in August 2024 and November 2024. They also come into force in January 2025, February 2025, and March 2025.

First round consultations began in July of last year, and ended in October.

The Commission has clarified the fact that the financial risk check pilot, or affordability check as it is also called in the whitepaper, will not affect customers. This pilot allows the Commission to “fine-tune the data-sharing processes” before the assessments are implemented in the live environment.

It is expected that the pilot will last six months. The Commission will then decide whether the checks should be implemented permanently. It stressed, however, that the Commission will only implement checks permanently if data sharing is seamless for “a vast majority” of those who are subjected to check.

Tim Miller, the executive director at the Commission confirmed in February that an affordability pilot program was on its way.

Financial risk assessments using “light touch”

Today, the Commission announced that it would introduce what they call “light-touch financial vulnerability checks”. The pilot financial risk assessment is also included.

According to the regulator, the affordability check would allow people “to gamble in safety”. The regulator also claims that this will protect people from gambling-related harm.

The implementation of the financial risk check will be done in two phases, with the first starting on 30 August 2024. The second phase starts from 2025.

Customers who make a monthly net gambling deposit of 500 PS will be subject to a check in the first phase. In the second phase, customers who make a monthly net gambling deposit of PS150 will be subject to checks.

Andrew Rhodes said the pilot of affordability checks would enable the Commission to evaluate the impact the proposal has on the industry.

Rhodes added, “We’re also happy to continue a pilot project of financial risk assessment and data collection. Together they will allow us to make well-informed decisions on how we can implement these assessments in a manner that promotes both consumer protection and freedom.”

We must strike the right balance between protecting the public from potentially devastating gambling-related injuries and respecting adults’ freedom to participate in a game that is enjoyed by the majority of people without any harm.

Financial Risk Assessments Made Easy

In response to feedback received from consultations, the Commission announced that it would conduct a pilot project for frictionless assessment. Rhodes, in a UK Gambling Policy Debate held last September, noted affordability checks as the top issue raised by the responses to the initial consultation.

Pilot will test impact by implementing checks and working with gambling firms, credit agencies and other partners. The pilot will assess how the checks affect customers. The Commission will be able to determine the thresholds for financial checks based on the data collected from the pilot.

The regulator stated that this pilot would not be conducted in an actual live situation. The regulator clarified also that the pilot for financial risk assessment or light touch checks will not affect the player’s credit rating.

The number of features in games that are banned

In addition to the affordability check, the Commission provided updates on its proposals for remote game design.

The new rules are designed to reduce intensity while increasing understanding by the players. New rules also ban a variety of game features. The new rules will also prohibit a number of game features.

  • The use of features that create the illusion of player control, such as “turbo”, “slam stop” or “slam”
  • Autoplay;
  • Features which celebrate returns that are less than or equal to what is staked
  • Features that are controlled by the operator allow players to simultaneously play multiple products, such as roulette and blackjack.
  • Playing poker with other players requires a spin speed of under five seconds.

Operators will also be required to show the net spending of customers in real-time, along with how much time they spent playing.

The changes are effective on January 17, 2025.

Verification of age and consent to marketing

Also, new rules for age verification in land-based premises were outlined. The age-verification test will be required for all land-based license holders, including smaller licencees.

Also, the code of good practices will be revised. License holders must have in place procedures that force staff to verify the ages of customers if they appear to be younger than 25 years old, rather than 21.

Changes to the LCCP are expected from 30 August, 2024.

Direct marketing will require that gambling companies offer their customers the opportunity to choose the product types they want to receive and the marketing channels through which they prefer to be marketed. The law will be implemented on 17th January 2025.

Rhodes continued, “As gambling regulators it is vital to introduce new rules that are based on facts and take into consideration the opinions of interested parties and consumers.” We have taken into account the opinions expressed by our consultation and engagement responses, and have implemented changes to ensure that we provide meaningful protections.

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