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Compliance Updates

BGC Supports UK Government’s Proposed 1% Gambling Levy

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The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced its support for the UK government’s proposed 1% gambling levy.

A spokesperson for the BGC said: “BGC members pledged £100m over four years to fund Research, Education and Treatment (RET) services to help prevent gambling-related harm and tackle problem gambling, which is paid through a unique voluntary levy scheme. They have gone further and will have donated £110m by March 2024, helping to protect the vital work of third sector RET providers.

“This current voluntary levy funds an independent network of charities which treats around 85 per cent of all problem gamblers receiving treatment in Great Britain. RET donations only go to charities accredited by the Gambling Commission and BGC members have no say on how the funding is spent.

“The BGC supports a new mandatory levy – indeed we proposed this to the Government ahead of the White Paper. Our industry has been the majority funder of RET for over 20 years. However, we believe it should apply to all operators including the National Lottery, without affecting good causes, who are not immune to having problem gamblers gamble with their products like scratch cards and instant win games.

“It must also be applied on a sliding scale, with smaller percentage contributions from land-based operators, including independent betting shops on our high streets that have struggled to recover after the pandemic and incur disproportionately higher fixed costs.

“There must also be adequate oversight to ensure levy funds are only distributed to charities and organisations delivering genuine RET services to ensure long-term, sustainable funding – including protecting existing third sector providers who are already doing vital work and who may now be at risk.”

Compliance Updates

UK FCA Approves Department of Trust as Registered Account Information Services Provider

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First dedicated safer gambling platform given direct access to open banking infrastructure

Department of Trust (DOTrust. co. uk), the award-winning provider of financial risk assessments for safer gambling, has received official status from the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a Registered Account Information Service Provider (RAISP) under the terms of the Payment Services Regulations 2017.

The registration makes Department of Trust the dedicated safer gambling AIS provider. With its new status, Department of Trust can now connect directly to dozens of United Kingdom banks and payment institutions to provide gambling operators with its low-friction and privacy-friendly model of enhanced financial vulnerability, source of funds and proof of income assessments.

Additionally, it powers its consumer-facing BetBudget personal finance tool to independently assist consumers in keeping on top of their spend, controlling their data and tracking their overall gambling P&L.

This latest development, which has taken over a year to achieve, follows the provider’s recent launch of its DoTrust Complete platform with The Rank Group. The major brand is the first to use this bespoke, integrated suite of frictionless assessments that gives operators end-to-end risk evaluation of their players to spot and support potentially vulnerable customers from the moment of registration onwards.

“Becoming a RAISP is a major step forward not just for us, our customers and users, but also for the place of open banking in supporting safer gambling generally,” the founder and Chief Executive Officer for Department of Trust, Charles Cohen, said. “Financial risk assessments of gamblers are different to those in other sectors and demand a bespoke approach that is sensitive to the needs of consumers and operators alike. The industry needs providers able to deliver high-acceptance, low-friction and privacy-protecting financial assessments of players that are both accurate and proportionate throughout the player journey.

“Being registered as a RAISP is the gold standard of open banking and allows us to do that alongside our frictionless checks for lower-risk situations seamlessly and without being distracted from the task at hand. Having direct access to the banks means we can offer the highest level of service, innovate faster and ensure integrity throughout whilst providing the best value for money in the sector.

“In combination with our recently launched platform, DoTrust Complete, this development further reinforces our commitment to providing the tools required to ensure compliance in regulated markets around the world.”

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Compliance Updates

UK Affordability Checks Debate: Are They Meant to Remember the Face of Every Punter Who’s Placed a Bet?

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UK Parliament Gambling Affordability Checks Debate – comments from Felix Faulkner (pictured), Solicitor at Poppleston Allen

“There were many comments in the debate regarding whether these checks and the damage to the industry will drag the industry back to the pre-Gambling Act days when underground gambling was considerably more prominent.

“Whether that’s true or not, I can’t comment. However, I think it is fair to say that, currently, the proposed idea of enhanced affordability checks is a far way off the reality of implementation. Significant developments and detail are needed from the Gambling Commission as to exactly how this proposal will benefit both the industry and punters alike.

“The biggest risk that these checks present to the industry is to horse racing and on-course betting. How can the government expect people at an on-course stand with 30 seconds until the race starts to do affordability checks? How can they be expected to remember who’s put a bet on which horse? Are they meant to remember the face of every punter ahead of every race? In practice, this would be physically impossible to work with and will ruin the customer experience.

“The current proposal tabled by the Gambling Commission and the government is going to be very difficult to implement and it will be interesting to see exactly how they propose to get around that difficulty.

“The impact this has would be significant – and significantly detrimental – to both punters and the racing industry and create a huge amount of friction for everyone. This approach is fundamentally contrary to the ‘frictionless light touch’ approach tabled by Tim Miller, Executive Director of Research and Policy at the Gambling Commission, just last week.

“I would imagine it would put punters off making bets and, at the moment, I struggle to feasibly see a way for it to be implemented smoothly. At the moment, it is difficult to imagine the benefit for punters or for on-course bookmakers.”

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Compliance Updates

Anger in the Industry After the Swedish Gambling Authority’s Acquittal of Infiniza

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Last Friday, Di wrote about how the Swedish Gambling Authority closed an investigation into the Malta-based casino operator Infiniza, whose online casino, according to the authority’s assessment, is not aimed at Swedes. This is after the company changed the payment operator, i.e. who manages the transfer of gambling money from bank accounts to the casino, and the criteria that determine whether someone directs gambling at Swedes are not considered fulfilled.

Actions Did The Trick For Infiniza

“In light of the measures Infiniza Limited has taken regarding the company’s marketing as well as the payment options and/or payment service providers that were the subject of the current supervisory case, the Swedish Gambling Inspectorate assesses that the company, based on what emerged in the case, ceased to provide gambling aimed at the Swedish market without necessary license”

From the Gambling Authority’s decision that Infiniza review ceases, 21/2 2024.

Gustaf Hoffstedt, general secretary of the licensed gambling operators’ association The Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (Bos), is upset.

“It is offensive, and endangers the entire safety and security of the Swedish gambling license system,” he told Di about the Spelinspektionen’s decision, which he read about “with dismay” in Di.

According to Gustaf Hoffstedt, who refers to web traffic statistics that Di has taken part in, Infiniza is one of Sweden’s largest players in online casinos.

“They are estimated to have a significant operation in Sweden, in fact a large part of it is intended to receive Swedish consumers. It is of course extremely profitable, as they do not pay any Swedish gambling tax.”

The Swedish Gambling Authority’s decision has been made after Infiniza’s casinos changed their payment provider to one based in Lithuania. In the past, the Swedish-registered payment services Finshark and Zimpler reviewed by Di have been used.

“That’s exactly how it goes: if someone shines a spotlight on the fact that payment intermediaries ‘blue’ are not okay, payment intermediaries become ‘red’, then ‘green’, then ‘purple’ – and it goes on forever.”

Gustaf Hoffstedt calls for stricter legislation similar to that in the Netherlands, where it is forbidden to even accept domestic players – whereby more people play with the licensed players.

“The basic problem is the scope of the Swedish law, that is to say that unlicensed gambling companies are not explicitly prohibited from passively accepting Swedish players, provided that the company does not target them,” he says.

For several years, BOS has addressed the problem to both governments, investigators and the Gambling Authority and called for the Netherlands’ example to be followed, with the criminalization of passively accepting and enabling Swedish players.

However, the organization has cut stone in stone, and has not received a hearing for its proposal.

“The government does not want this. It claims that the channelization (the percentage of licensed gamblers, Di’s note) is good in Sweden, which unfortunately is not true, that the gambling market is stable, which is also not true, and that this is not a path that Sweden should follow.”

Marcus Aronsson, investigator at Spelinspektionen, told Di that the decision from last Friday only concerns Infiniza’s use of Zimpler, and that the just concluded case was already started in 2021.

He cannot comment on whether the payment company or companies used thereon means that Infiniza can be considered to target Swedes, nor whether a new review of the operator has been initiated after the Zimpler case.

In the decision, however, it is explicitly mentioned that the Swedish Gambling Authority can initiate a new supervisory case if Infiniza can again be considered to target the Swedish market without the necessary license.

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