A much cited hike in problem gambling has still yet to emerge during the pandemic – but that hasn’t stopped the regulator from pressing ahead with plans to invade player privacy online. Affordability checks remain high on the Gambling Commission agenda, right to privacy, on the other hand……
At a time when the British gambling industry (not to mention the wider economy) is on its knees due to the government’s protectionist stance on Covid-19, the Gambling Commission has taken the extraordinarily poorly-timed decision to put out a call for the views of consumers and industry members on the prospect of enforcing stronger requirements – including invasive affordability checks – on online operators to identify players who may be at risk of gambling harm.
Coming on the back of a year which has not only seen net gambling receipts (inclusive of online GGR) tumbling, but also seen a reduction in online problem-play behaviours – as attested by the Gambling Commission’s own monthly statistics, the newly-launched consultation process is presumably intended to serve as a forum for the anti-gambling lobby to continue to entertain the view that the British gambling trade is both ruthless and unstoppable, as opposed to the battered and bruised entity it really is. And worse, that the British punter is unable to determine whether it has the funds to play.
A press release from the regulator said that the consultation would call for “feedback” on “whether a customer’s gambling is affordable at thresholds set by the commission.”
The Commission also said it was seeking opinions as to where exactly these thresholds should lie.
“Whilst some operators have continued to improve their customer interaction processes, our evidence shows that many online operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels,” said the Commission’s executive director Tim Miller. “They are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risks of potential harm.”
“We are clear on the need for gambling companies to take further action and that the Commission must set firm requirements to set consistent standards,” he continued. “But we want to have an open discussion with the gambling industry, consumers, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, to ensure we strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm.”