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Compliance Updates

UKGC confirms gambling on credit cards to be banned from April 2020

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UKGC confirms gambling on credit cards to be banned from April 2020
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The Gambling Commission has announced a ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers in Great Britain to use credit cards to gamble.

The ban, which comes into effect on 14 April, follows the Commission’s review of online gambling and the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. A public consultation was carried out between August and November 2019.

24 million adults in Great Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimate that 800,000* consumers use credit cards to gamble.

Separate research undertaken by the Commission shows that 22%** of online gamblers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers – with even more at some risk of harm.

The ban, which will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries, will provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: 

“Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.

“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.

‘“We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”

Mr McArthur said although he understood that some consumers used credit cards because they were convenient, the risk of harm to others was too high to allow the use of credit cards to continue.

“We realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken.” he said. “But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers.”

Mr McArthur warned that although likely to reduce gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needed to be accompanied by other efforts.

“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm. We also need to continue the work we have been doing with gambling operators and the finance industry to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend.”

Last year Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) ministers also met with banks and gambling operators to discuss their growing concerns, and how companies could use technology and customer data to help those at risk of developing gambling problems, including those using credit cards.

Culture Minister Helen Whately said: 

“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.

“There is clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them.

“In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long Term Plan. We have also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.

“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.

“We will not hesitate to take any further action necessary to protect people from gambling harm.”

Today has also seen the Commission announce changes to licence conditions which will require all online gambling operators to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme and offer their customers the service from 31 March.

Neil McArthur said:

“We welcome the fact that GAMSTOP have got to this stage in their development and encourage them to continue to improve their offer, particularly in relation to preventing those who have self-excluded being targeted by direct marketing.

“It is important that self-exclusion schemes are as effective as possible and they will be most effective when used in combination with other blocking tools such as gambling blocking software and payment card blocking.

Helen Whately added: 

“We have been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, such as operators, social media platforms and banks, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help consumers manage their spending and protect them from harm.

“I have been encouraged by the majority of major high street banks introducing measures to allow customers to switch off spending on gambling through mobile apps.

“By making it a regulatory requirement for all online gambling websites licensed in Great Britain to sign up to Gamstop. I am confident that people who have taken the significant step to opt out of gambling will be well supported, alongside a wide range of other tools.”

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Compliance Updates

Portuguese Regulator Approves Crash Games

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Portugal’s regulator has approved a draft regulation that will allow crash games to be played in the country.

Portugal’s Gaming Regulation and Inspection Service (SRIJ) announced the approval on May 19. It took effect on May 20, with the country’s Legal Regime for Online Gaming and Betting amended to include crash games in the legislation.

Crash games are house-banked games that allow players to play against the operator. They are based on a multiplier, which increases from 1 throughout the game to a maximum of 100.

Players aim to withdraw their bet before the game ends, receiving their initial stake times the multiplier if they do so. If they fail to do so, they lose their stake.

The legislation states that the multiplier will go from 1x to 100x. Additionally, the return to player cannot be less than 80%.

Licensed operators in the country may now apply for permission to offer the games.

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Compliance Updates

BOS “Cautiously Positive” of Swedish Governmental Bill

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BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, has expressed that it is “cautiously positive” of an array of proposals put forward by the country’s government in a bid to strengthen gambling regulation.

The bill suggests, among other things, the implementation of B2B licenses to take effect by 1 July 2023. It also suggests measures against marketing of unlicensed gambling and something the government entitles “adjusted moderation” regarding marketing of licensed gambling.

“It is entirely in line with what the government announced it would include and we are cautiously positive of this bill. The most striking thing is actually what is not included in the proposal, such as a ban on advertising for gambling on TV, radio and streaming media between 06-21. We are pleased that the government has listened to stakeholders in the gambling industry as well as several publishers who have pointed out the disadvantages of such a proposal,” Gustaf Hoffstedt, Secretary General of BOS, said.

“The remaining concern is the proposal for “adjusted moderation”. It seems to be a paraphrase of risk classification and the very ambiguity of what it actually means opens for legal uncertainty. Here, the legislator should consider whether it really wants to introduce further uncertainty regarding the interpretation of regulatory measures, uncertainty that risks leading to protracted court proceedings,” Gustaf Hoffstedt added.

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Australia

REGULATOR WARNS HIGHER FINES ON THE CARDS FOR ILLEGAL GAMBLING ADS

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REGULATOR WARNS HIGHER FINES ON THE CARDS FOR ILLEGAL GAMBLING ADS
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Online betting operators have been issued with more than $100,000 in fines over the past week as Liquor & Gaming NSW continues to take a zero-tolerance approach to the publication of illegal gambling inducements.

Most recently, online betting provider BetDeluxe has been fined $70,000 for publishing illegal gambling inducements after being prosecuted by Liquor & Gaming NSW.

This follows the successful prosecution of PointsBet, which was fined a total of $35,000 for publishing illegal gambling inducements last week, after receiving a $20,000 fine for the same offences in 2019.

Hospitality and Racing CEO, Anthony Keon said Liquor & Gaming NSW was continuing to pro-actively monitor online betting providers and it was completely unacceptable that seven bookmakers have been prosecuted on multiple occasions since 2018.

“Liquor & Gaming NSW will continue to actively pursue operators for illegal advertisements and advocate for the courts to issue higher penalties,” Mr Keon said.

“In 2018 the NSW Government introduced new laws to significantly increase penalties for wagering operators who are found guilty of promoting inducements to gamble, with maximum fines now set at $110,000 per offence for a corporation.

“Clearly some of these operators think gambling inducements are just the cost of doing business, but they are wrong, and they are pushing their luck. We will continue to bring these matters before the courts and seek higher penalties that reflect community expectations.”

In Downing Centre Local Court yesterday (18/5), BetDeluxe pleaded guilty to five offences that included 21 Facebook promotions for bonus bets on sports games and enhanced odds on horse racing.

In addition to the $70,000 in fines, BetDeluxe has also been ordered to pay $8,500 in legal costs. This is the first time the company has been prosecuted for this type of offence.

PointsBet pleaded guilty to two advertisements that included an Instagram promotion to get $50 back in bonus bets, similar to those it offered in 2019 on the Apple App Store, promising $100 cash back on certain bets.

“Prohibitions on gambling inducements are an important harm minimisation measure and the increase in maximum penalties, along with our continued prosecution action, should send a clear message to wagering operators about how seriously we view these matters,” Mr Keon said.

“Reoffenders run the risk of the higher range penalties, and more scrutiny, so let me be clear that patterns of poor compliance are not worth the trouble.

“We hope this is the first and last time we see BetDeluxe in court for gambling inducements.”

Since 2015, Liquor & Gaming NSW has successfully prosecuted 37 matters for prohibited gambling advertising, resulting in over $642,500 in fines, with nine betting providers currently before the courts.

 

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