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Compliance Updates

PRIZE DEBT: CALLS TO REVIEW GAMBLING REGULATIONS AS CONSUMERS RACK UP MILLIONS ON CREDIT CARDS


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PRIZE DEBT: CALLS TO REVIEW GAMBLING REGULATIONS AS CONSUMERS RACK UP MILLIONS ON CREDIT CARDS
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·  Consumers spent £117m on credit cards entering prize draws and competitions, which are not currently regulated by the Government,  in a bid to win dream prizes(1)

·  Promise of a charitable donation makes nearly half of participants more likely to enter

· Jumbo Interactive calls on the UK Government to regulate the growing prize draw and competition market and for a clampdown on credit cards use

The UK Government is being urged to review current gambling regulations, as new research reveals consumers are racking up millions on credit cards entering popular prize draws and competitions.

The research from Jumbo Interactive found consumers spent £117m on credit cards entering prize draws and competitions in the last year, which due to a loophole, are not currently regulated in the same way as lotteries and raffles.

The study found nearly one in 10 people who entered ‘big ticket’ prize draws, offering the chance to win multi-million pound houses or luxury cars, or prize competitions, have ended up in debt as a result.

Using credit cards to gamble was banned in April 2020, but a loophole in regulation means there are currently no restrictions on commercial prize draw or prize competition companies. For prize draws, this is because they offer “free” entry methods, where it’s possible to play by post for the cost of a postage stamp. Yet, despite this ‘free to enter’ route, an estimated £860m was spent on entries into prize draws in the last year[iii].

Prize draws and competitions that promise a donation to charity also makes 45% of participants more likely to enter, yet over half of players (57%) admit to not checking how much actually goes to good causes.

Jumbo Interactive is now calling for greater regulation of the growing prize draw and competition market, highlighting significant consumer protection concerns over credit card debt, as well as a lack of transparency around prizes and charity donations from entry fees.

It is also urging consumers to check the T&Cs as there is little enforcement of minimum donation percentage for prize draws and competitions. This compares to regulated society lotteries, which give a minimum of 20% of gross ticket sales and often over 50% to good causes.

Nigel Atkinson, UK General Manager, Jumbo Interactive comments: “A huge amount is being spent on credit cards on prize draws, pushing people into debt – despite the free entry option being the reason they are exempt from oversight. With so much money changing hands, the government needs to look at the proper regulation of prize draws and competitions to better protect consumers.

“For many, the fact that some of the cost of entering prize draws and competitions goes to charity is a big part of why they enter. But it remains easy for companies to bury information in the terms and conditions about how much actually goes to charity. Society lotteries on the other hand have minimum donation rates and help raise funds for a wide range of important causes, large and small. Public trust is crucial for society lotteries to operate successfully, and increased regulation of the prize draw and competition market will offer that consistency and transparency.”

Tony Vick, Chair of The Lotteries Council, adds: “The Lotteries Council is increasingly concerned about the use of prize draws operated by commercial gambling companies which are marketing themselves in a similar way to charity lotteries. Lotteries face a series of legislative hurdles that restrict our ability to grow and raise funds for good causes while prize draws face no limits on how many tickets they can sell, what prizes they can offer, and choose whether and how much to give to any charity. We hope the Government looks at this to ensure a fairer playing field.”

Falling foul of scams has also been an issue for 15% of entrants, including paying money for postage on a prize that never arrives, paying a significant amount of money on phone calls or texts to enter a competition without it being clear that it would cost that much, or winning a prize that turned out to be of less value than advertised.

Notably, 72% of those who enter lotteries, draws or competitions think prize competitions and prize draws should be regulated in the same way as gambling.

Compliance Updates

SG:CERTIFIED APPOINTS MARIS CATANIA AS SAFER GAMBLING SENIOR CONSULTANT

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SG:CERTIFIED APPOINTS MARIS CATANIA AS SAFER GAMBLING SENIOR CONSULTANT
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SG:certified the gambling industry’s most comprehensive platform for helping operators with safer gambling, compliance and sustainability  practices, today announced Maris Catania has been appointed Safer Gambling Senior Consultant of SG:certified effective immediately.

Catania is a gambling industry veteran and brings significant insight to the role, with more than fourteen years of game integrity and safer gambling experience. She joins from Kindred, where she most recently served as Head of Responsible Gaming and Research.  In addition, Catania has been doing a PhD focusing on consumer protection, markers of harm, and responsible gambling, under the guidance of the leading distinguished professor Mark Griffiths.

Catania will be instrumental in leading and developing the most up-to-date and effective content for SG:certified on safer gambling issues. This will include training, assessments, recommendations of best practices, benchmarking and research digests. In addition to supporting clients with their safer gambling needs using the SG:certified platform.

Commenting on the appointment, Laura Da Silva, CEO of SG:certified said: “I have admired Maris and how passionate she is about safer gambling for many years, so I am delighted that she is joining us as a Safer Gambling Senior Consultant. With her expertise and knowledge of the industry I believe we can really make further positive change on the industry.”

“I’m really excited to join such an experienced yet still passionate team. SG:certified’s company ethos is to do well and make a great social impact, which is something I always try to live by in my personal life. So, this company was a natural fit for me. I can’t wait to get started  and help other companies get the benefits of the platform and build out safer gambling processes resulting in the implementation of better SG strategies.” said Catania.

The SG:certified platform uses a proven process to help companies achieve its safer gambling, ESG certification and/or sustainability goals with ease while focusing on overall impact along the way. SG:certified believes the time for companies to make change by operating well is now and they want to help make that happen.

Catania’s arrival is the latest addition to SG:certified following the appointment of Svend Aage Kirk as a Partner late last year.

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Blockchain

W2, Crucial Compliance and nChain unite to deliver blockchain-powered compliance

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W2, Crucial Compliance and nChain unite to deliver blockchain-powered compliance
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Player protection specialist joins forces with blockchain specialist to launch next-gen player protection tools to help operators avoid non-compliance and regulatory fines

W2, the provider of leading regulatory compliance services to the gambling industry and player protection specialists Crucial Compliance have joined forces with leading blockchain technology company nChain in a breakthrough partnership that brings blockchain-powered compliance solutions to operators in global markets.

The collaboration enhances the suite of compliance solutions offered by W2 and strategic partner Crucial Compliance, helping operators better overcome today’s regulatory challenges while future-proofing their compliance tools and processes for the challenges of tomorrow.

Distributed Ledge Technology is already playing a big role in transforming the industry. The collaboration between W2, Crucial Compliance and nChain brings this transformation to the area of regulation and compliance for the first time.

The solutions being offered by W2 and Crucial Compliance are now supported by the unmatched blockchain technology of nChain, forming a complete compliance and player protection toolkit that mitigates the risk of operators being hit with fines and the reputational damage this causes.

Blockchain is critical to this enhanced level of protection – traceable, auditable, trustless compliance tools are the future of iGaming and operators can access them now via W2 and Crucial Compliance.

Warren Russell, CEO of W2, said: “Protecting players should be easy. Combining W2’s tools and expertise with Crucial Compliance and nChain, we’ve created a complete solution that puts players first and makes maintaining compliance simple for operators.”

Paul Foster, CEO at Crucial Compliance, said: “Distributed Ledger Technology is the future of regulatory compliance and player protection, and this collaboration between W2, Crucial and nChain allows our operator partners to leverage its huge potential today while futureproofing for tomorrow.”

Nick Hill, Sales Director at nChain, added: “We are passionate about the ways in which blockchain can enhance vital processes for businesses in a wide range of sectors but especially when it comes to gambling operators and regulatory compliance and player protection.”

“This breakthrough partnership between nChain, W2 and Crucial Compliance makes these cutting-edge technologies available now, allowing gambling operators to enhance compliance and further mitigate the risk of fines and reputational damage.”

Find out more about W2, Crucial Compliance, and nChain by visiting the Consumer Protection Zone at ICE London on 7-9 February.

Find out more about the benefits of W2, Crucial Compliance, and nChain by visiting the Consumer Protection Zone at ICE VOX LONDON on 7-9 February.

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Compliance Updates

UKGC Imposes £6.1M Fine on Online Operator In Touch Games

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The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has imposed a fine of £6.1 million on In Touch Games (ITG) for social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.

Social responsibility failures included:

  • Not interacting with a customer until seven weeks after they had been flagged for interaction for erratic play patterns and extended periods of play.
  • Accepting a customer’s word that they earned £6000 a month without verifying this information after the customer account was flagged due to customer spend and gambling during unsociable hours.

Anti-money laundering failures included:

  • Not adequately taking account of the risk of a customer being a beneficiary of a life insurance policy; having links to high-risk jurisdictions; or being a politically exposed person (PEP), family member of a PEP or known close associates of a PEP, within its money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment.
  • Not having policies, procedures and controls in place to address the risk factors mentioned above.
  • Not sufficiently considering the Commission’s money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment or the Commission’s guidance.
  • Not ensuring its policies, procedures and controls were implemented effectively, for example not following its own policy to request source of funds information from customers who had deposited and lost £10,000 in a 12-month period.

This is the third time ITG have faced regulatory action – in 2019 it paid a £2.2m settlement for regulatory failures and in 2021 it received a £3.4m fine and warning for further failures.

Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations at UKGC, said: “Considering this operator’s history of failings we expected to see significant improvement when we carried out our planned compliance assessment. Disappointingly, although many improvements had been made, there was still more to do.

“This £6.1m fine shows that we will take escalating enforcement action where failures are repeated and all licensees should be acutely aware of this.”

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