Going on the aggressive as operators scramble to keep any semblance of normal business, the Gambling Commission has published a 2020/21 Business Plan that largely targets issues within the online gaming sector, while also bringing problem gamblers on-board as “Experts of Experience”.
The Gambling Commission has published its 2020/21 Business Plan which outlines key priorities for the year ahead, including bringing on-board problem gamblers, or “Experts by Experience”, to “fully inform the decisions right at the heart” of the regulator.
Chief executive of the Gambling Commission Neil McArthur also threatened the suspension and revocation of licences for those operators that don’t reduce gambling-related harm and protect customers. He outlined the regulator’s plan to deliver recommendations on how to address VIP incentives and making online advertising and online products safer, especially given the current situation.
“We begin a new financial year in extraordinary circumstances, the Covid19 virus will bring significant challenges for us all, including the gambling industry. With social distancing measures in place people are more likely to feel isolated and now more than ever operators must ensure that consumer safety is paramount,” said McArthur.
“Gambling related harm must be drastically reduced and if operators cannot protect customers from harm we are ready and willing to act; if necessary we will use our powers to suspend and revoke operating and personal licences.
“Since our review of online gambling in 2018 we have tightened age and ID verification rules, strengthened rules around customer interaction, and unfair terms and conditions and most recently we banned gambling on credit cards.
This year we will continue to deliver our recommendations by addressing VIP incentives and making online advertising and online gambling products safer.
“The volume and complexity of our work continues to grow. However, we will continue to focus our resources on the areas that have maximum impact for the greatest number of consumers and will make sure we have the capacity and capability to keep pace with emerging issues and risks that regulating a complex industry requires.”
As part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harm, the Commission will continue to work alongside partners to ensure improvements in prevention and education, and treatment and support resources are developed.
In 2020/21 the Commission will launch an Experts by Experience Board to ensure that the voice of consumers, particularly those who have experienced harm, “fully informs decisions right at the heart” of the Commission.
As well as running the competition to appoint the next National Lottery licencee, the Commission will also support the Government’s planned review of the Gambling Act and are already working to take account of the findings in the recent National Audit Office Report into gambling regulation.
For the arcades, machines and bingo sector, Q2 will be a defining moment of the 20-21 plan. That will be when the regulator “establishes the case for changes to Gambling Commission fees and provide advice to DCMS.”
Between the three sectors, almost 30 percent of GC fees are drawn from this grouping. Which will beg the obvious question: with the Commission’s attention laser-focused on the online gambling sector, and following a whole financial season decimated by coronavirus, surely the GC cannot justify raising fees for the land-based sector?