Contained within a consultation proposing changes to LCCP requirements for customer interaction and alternative dispute resolution, the Gambling Commission has announced an upcoming call for evidence on Cat B3, with player-tracking suspected to be on the regulator’s agenda.
The Gambling Commission will “shortly” call for evidence around strengthening at stemming the massive growth of online ads, the new codes also prohibit the targeting of groups “who are likely” to be under the age of 18 based upon data collected as to their online interests and browsing history. Additionally, they mandate that no animated characters likely to appeal to children or taken from youth culture be portrayed in any gambling advert, with these terms rates 150 years two percent, which came into action on 1 January.
Proposed as part of Budget 2019 by Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe, the tax hike has been a cause of huge concern for industry stakeholders, with independent bookmakers in particular feeling squeezed by the 100 percent rise.
Following insistent calls from the Irish Bookmakers Association, Donohoe assured that the impact on the industry would be reassessed at the end of 2019 Q1.
In Ireland, independent bookmakers form a significant segment of the market, making the doubling of the turnover tax particularly painful – with reports of as many as 10 shops closing already. Some operators in the industry have suggested a compromise which would see the increase move from turnover to gross profit. However, for this to save any more shops from closing, Ireland’s politicians would have to move rather swiftly on this issue; something they’ve struggled to do when it comes to gambling legislation.
In a document asking for opinions on the proposed changes to LCCP requirements for customer interaction and alternative dispute resolution, the regulator slipped in a low-key announcement that Category B would be next up for discussion. With Category B2 brought in-line in the latest Triennial Review, it is expected that B3 will be next under the regulator’s microscope. Indeed, in the Triennial consultation document, the government made it clear that it had future plans for the B3 category, particularly in the realms of player-tracking.
Trade association Bacta has stated that the forced implementation of an expensive player-tracking system is the biggest threat the industry faces in 2019, making the upcoming call for evidence an important conversation for stakeholders to con- tribute to once submissions open. The Commission indicated that this would happen “shortly” – which may mean a matter of weeks – giving the industry rather little time to prepare a detailed contribution.
As well as being short notice, the announcement was also somewhat buried within a another consultation proposing changes to customer interaction, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and gambling website blocking software.While the latter is for online operator only, the former applies to both remote and non- remote operators, with the Commission suggesting a new frame- work for the current customer interaction model which would focus on outcomes rather than the completion of a checklist.
As it has done with the remote sector, the Commission also proposed a new guidance for the non-remote sector, which will replace the existing guidelines on best practice contained in Ordinary Code Provision 3.4.2.The regulator has asked for feedback on these proposals, including a question regarding the costs for operators to implement the changes. Along with the suggested changes to customer interaction, the Commission also proposed the enactment of additional standards for ADR providers, which stakeholders can also have their say on in the latest call for evidence.
Operators in the low- stake land-based gaming industry are unlikely to struggle with any changes to the customer interaction model, with social responsibility being a top priority for social entertainment venues such as FECs, AGCs, bingo halls and pubs. The upcoming call for evidence on B3 consumer protections, however, may present more of a challenge if an expensive player tracking system is on the Commission’s agenda. It has been labeled an “existential threat” by the industry’s trade associations, and any such proposal from the regulator should be met by detailed feed- back from operators, suppliers and other industry stakeholders to ensure the idea is quickly abandoned.