New Gambling Regulations to Enhance Safety and Consumer Choice

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The Gambling Commission has introduced a series of new rules aimed at promoting safety and enhancing consumer choice in the gambling sector, with phased implementation starting from August 2024. These reforms are in response to the increasing concerns about gambling-related harm and the growing call for more stringent regulatory measures.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the UK Gambling Commission, emphasised the necessity of these changes, stating,

“As a gambling regulator it’s vital that the introduction of new rules is based on evidence and takes into account the views of consumers and other interested parties.”

The new rules, which are aligned with the Government’s White Paper titled ‘High Stakes: Gambling Reform for the Digital Age,’ focus on several key areas:

  • Reducing Game Intensity: The Commission is set to implement rules that will slow down the speed and reduce the intensity of online games. New restrictions will include banning features that accelerate play or create illusions of control, such as ‘turbo’ and ‘slam stops.’ Autoplay features will also be prohibited along with deceptive audio or visual effects that celebrate non-profitable returns.
  • Improving Consumer Choice in Marketing: Starting January 2025, gambling businesses will need to provide clearer options for consumers to opt-in for marketing materials. This move aims to prevent consumers from receiving unwanted gambling ads and promotions.
  • Enhanced Financial Checks: The introduction of light-touch financial vulnerability checks and a pilot program for frictionless financial risk assessments are designed to protect consumers from significant financial losses. These measures will ensure that spending patterns are monitored and that consumers are not permitted to gamble beyond their financial means without adequate checks.
  • Tighter Age Verification: New requirements will be put in place for land-based gambling establishments to conduct age verification checks, with a specific focus on individuals who appear under 25 years old. This is a change from the previous threshold of under 21 years.
  • Personal Management Licenses: Changes are also being made to extend the roles that require a Personal Management Licence, enhancing accountability and ensuring that gambling operations are conducted safely and fairly.

The Commission plans to roll out these changes in four stages, with the first set of rules coming into effect on 30 August 2024. Rhodes further commented on the gradual implementation, noting, “We have listened to the views expressed in our engagement and in the consultation responses, and we have made changes while still ensuring that we deliver meaningful protections.”

A six-month pilot will precede the full implementation of some measures to refine processes and ensure minimal consumer disruption. Following the pilot, decisions on the permanent implementation of these rules will be made based on the results and effectiveness of the initial measures.

The overarching goal of these regulations is to strike a balance between protecting individuals from the harmful effects of excessive gambling and preserving the rights of adults to engage in gambling activities responsibly. The Commission remains committed to adapting its strategies based on consumer feedback and evolving needs within the gambling landscape.