New rules from the UK’s Gambling Commission come into force from October 31 this year and it has released a video explaining the detail and the extent of the changes.
Ian Angus, programme director for consumer protection and empowerment, explained what these changes will mean for gambling operators and how consumers will be better protected.
The changes to licence condition and codes of practice covers five main points…
1) “Operators will be required to abide by UK advertising codes which are written by the committees of advertising practice and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.”
2) “Operators will be held fully accountable for the actions and behaviours of third parties, including affiliates.”
3) “Operators will be required to comply with consumer law, particularly in relation to online promotions and the withdrawal of customer funds.”
4) “Operators will be required to introduce better complaint handling processes and we’re introducing a new eight-week limit for the resolution of customer complaints.”
5) “Operators will be required to ensure that they don’t spam UK consumers by electronic means.”
Angus went on to explain further: “The changes reflect our broader strategic ambitions to make sure that gambling is fair and safe, brought about because we had evidence that consumers weren’t being treated fairly. We know that public trust in gambling is on the decline.
“There were quite serious compliance failings with consumer law and UK advertising codes and more general concerns about children, young people and vulnerable people. We consulted widely on these proposals earlier this year with industry consumers and other stakeholders and there was widespread support for these changes.
“The changes came about on the back of a significant piece of work with the Competition and Markets Authority to invest potential breeches of consumer law in the online sector, particularly in relation to promotions and the withdrawal of customer monies. The changes will mean that the Commission has the ability to act more swiftly and in a tougher manner to address breaches of consumer law.
“We expect operators to abide by all aspects of consumer law but in particular requirements related to online promotions and the withdrawal of customer funds, so during the investigation with the C&A we found that offers were being promoted in a way that was misleading and customers didn’t have easy and ready access to understandable terms and conditions and we also found examples whereby operators were unfairly withholding customer’s deposits and winnings.
“The new requirements that are being introduced will make clear to operators that we expect a complaints process which is fair, open, transparent and effective and as part of that we’re introducing a new eight-week limit during which operators must resolve customer’s complaints and disputes. In addition, we are publishing new advice to operators to help them develop an effective and appropriate customer complaints process. We are also introducing a new set of standards for alternative dispute resolutions.
“For the first time licenced operators will be required in our rulebook to comply with the full suite of UK advertising codes and failure to do so will result in swifter and tougher action from the Gambling Commission, including the potential for fining.
“Operators need to familiarise themselves with the changes that will come into effect from October 31. That means treating consumers fairly at the very heart of their business model and need to ensure that protocols and processes are updated, that staff are fully trained and understand what the changes mean in practice. As a commission, we’ll continue to regulate in a fair and proportionate manner, but we won’t hesitate to use the full range of our regulatory powers if needed.”