The UK Gambling Commission’s ongoing work to strengthen consumer protection against gambling harms has led to it releasing a new set of rules to UK-licenced operators that will force them to follow new guidance when administering VIP schemes.
The Commission carried out an extensive consultation earlier this year and as a result, has identified VIP schemes as one of the areas that needs to change.
The regulator has previously had several instances brought to its attention of some operators’ “failure to protect high value customers”.
Many of these customers were encouraged to meet certain criteria such as placing higher deposits and wagering more funds to be able to qualify for VIP incentives or entry to VIP programmes.
However, from the end of this month, the Commission’s new code of conduct must be followed to ensure that customers are not unnecessarily encouraged to maintain or increase their levels of activity just to be eligible for ‘high value’ player rewards such as hospitality, gifts and personalised bonuses.
From 31st October 2020, operators will not be allowed to make players VIPs without checking that their spending is “affordable and sustainable”, as well as whether there is any “evidence of gambling related harm”.
The operators must also ensure that they hold up-to-date information relating to the player’s source of funds, identity and occupation. They must also continue to verify the information provided and carry out ongoing gambling harm checks. Responsibility is going to be a key factor and each firm will need to appoint a senior executive to actually hold a Personal Management Licence (PML) issued by the Gambling Commission and this person will be accountable for any breaches in policy.
The Chief Executive of the UKGC says that “if significant improvements are not made, we will have no choice but to take further action and ban such schemes”.
Later this month, the Commission plans to launch a consultation on how operators should interact with their customers. The consultation will take into consideration issues such as how to take action when customers are displaying risk indicators, how to better identify vulnerable players, and how to assess affordability.