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Compliance Updates

Betting and Gaming Council Members Boast Record Compliance on Age Verification Checks

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The members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have achieved record compliance rates for age verification checks, according to leading industry auditor Serve Legal.

Independent figures provided by Serve Legal, show bookmakers boasted a 91.4% age verification pass rate, across thousands of annual checks.

Meanwhile, casinos have a near-perfect pass rate of 98%.

This represents a 30% compliance increase across the audit volume since 2009, when Serve Legal began working with the regulated betting and gaming sector.

Regulated betting and gaming is now the leading sector in the UK for age verification compliance, better than supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol forecourts and delivering 10-15% higher compliance rates than the alcohol and lottery sectors annually.

BGC members take a zero-tolerance approach to betting by children and have significantly raised standards to protect young people.

The most popular forms of betting by children are legal arcade games like penny pusher and claw grab machines, bets between friends or family, and playing cards for money – not with BGC members.

BGC members enforce strict age verification on all their products to prevent underage gaming and will further strengthen age verification measures by increasing the checking age from “Think 21” to “Think 25” across betting shops and casinos. This policy will require anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to provide ID.

The BGC also funds the £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered by leading charities YGAM and GamCare, which has reached more than two million 11 to 19-year-olds, and those working with them, in the UK.

Wes Himes, Executive Director of Standards and Innovation, said: “The BGC and our members are incredibly proud of these compliance rates, which put us ahead of our peers in every department.

“I am hugely grateful to Serve Legal for their work over the last 15 years, who have been instrumental in this change. Serve Legal, alongside our members and their dedicated staff, have led the charge in raising standards and setting a new benchmark for excellence.

“Bookmakers and casinos play a vital economic role on the UK’s hard-pressed high streets, as well as in the leisure and tourism sector. But economic contribution has to go hand-in-hand with the highest standards.

“We are delivering that, which should be welcome news to customers and communities across the country. Our work to raise standards goes on, and I expect these compliance rates to continue improving across the land-based betting and gaming sector.”

Serve Legal is the market-leading provider of ID and compliance testing services in the UK & Ireland. Providing extensive, independent audit services to national retailers, leisure operators and sports broadcasters, Serve Legal’s site audits help clients protect and improve operational and compliance standards.

Over the last 15 years, Serve Legal has conducted over 200,000 bookmaker and casino site audits, to ensure due diligence across a range of compliance issues for BGC members.

Audit checks were conducted at single-site businesses through to national brands with thousands of locations on UK high streets.

Serve Legal Client Manager Ali Deering said: “Compliance challenges can be greater for smaller independent bookmakers. The BGC have done admirable work in bringing them up to speed with the latest compliance support, to offer a level playing field with other big names in the industry. At Serve Legal we are proud to be supporting all of the BGC’s members, including casinos, with their due diligence and celebrate the tangible successes in each of them!”

The improvement comes as a result of new measures on customer interactions and improved “challenge on entry” standards for age verification.

Serve Legal CEO Ed Heaver said: “The Serve Legal team are incredibly proud of the work conducted by the BGC and their members. Their impressive dedication and work ethic has paid off in some highly impressive statistics, showing the 30% compliance increase across the industry over the time that we have worked in the sector. We thank the BGC for pioneering their mission of customer safety alongside ours.”

The BGC’s commitment to protecting young people extends beyond land-based betting and gaming, including recent commitments on advertising.

In 2019, BGC members introduced the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sports before the 9 pm watershed, which led to the number of such ads being seen by children at that time falling by 97%.

BGC members have also introduced new age-gating rules for advertising on social media platforms, targeting ads to those aged 25 and over unless a platform can verifiably prove that its age-gating systems can prevent under-18s from accessing regulated betting and gaming advertising content.

The BGC has also written to the Government, asking them to urge social media companies to cooperate more closely with the betting and gaming industry in limiting marketing seen by young people and problem gamblers.

Recent data from the Gambling Commission published last year showed young people’s exposure to betting and gaming adverts and promotions had declined compared to the previous year.

Of 11 to 17-year-olds, 55% had seen regulated betting and gaming adverts offline, compared to 66% in 2022, and 53% had seen adverts online, compared to 63% in 2022.

The Government has previously stated research did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem betting and gaming.

The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gaming, unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards strictly employed by BGC members.

BGC members overall contribute £7.1bn to the economy and generate £4.2bn in tax while supporting 110,000 jobs.

Each month in Great Britain around 22.5m adults have a bet and the most recent NHS Health Survey for England estimated that 0.4% of the adult population are problem gamblers.

Australia

ACMA Blocks More Illegal Offshore Gambling Websites

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has requested that Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block more illegal offshore gambling websites, after investigations found these services to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

The latest sites blocked include A Big Candy, Jackpoty and John Vegas Casino.

Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options to protect Australians against illegal online gambling. Since the ACMA made its first blocking request in November 2019, 995 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked.

Over 220 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

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Compliance Updates

MGA: Update to Process for Addition of New Game Provider/s

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MGA: Update to Process for Addition of New Game Provider/s
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The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) would like to notify all Licensees of some changes to the addition of new Game Providers notification process.  As from 1 August 2024, notifications of new Game Providers, submitted through the Licensee Portal via a ‘Technical – Change in Game Type/Provider’ application, need to be accompanied by the below documentation/information:

  1. The updated Key Technical setup and Essential Components documentation*.
  2. The updated Specifications of the Gaming System documentation*.
  3. A Declaration provided by a Key Person or a Director of the Licensee covering the following requirements:
  1. The formal name of the Game Provider, and the respective Authorisation Number (Licence Number/Recognition Notice Certificate Reference Number);
  2. The Services being offered by the Game Provider, including the Game Types and Verticals pertaining to the new games being offered;
  3. Any Jackpot details, including the type of jackpot that shall be offered, and the relevant jackpot policy if applicable;
  4. A confirmation that any relevant documentation has been updated, including the Business Risk Assessment (if applicable).**

If the Licensee shall be integrating with various Game Providers, a separate Declaration per Game Provider would need to be submitted, by uploading the various Declarations in the Enclosures page within the same application.  The Declaration/s should also include any further pertinent information to be notified to the Authority.  If the above information is not included within the application, such an application shall be deemed to be incomplete, and will be set to a one-time ‘Incomplete’ status.  Following this, unless the application is fully submitted within sixty (60) days, it will be closed off automatically and the Authority would not be able to process the new Game Provider/s.

Although the agreement(s) between the Licensee and the Game Providers are not required when a Declaration is submitted, the Authority shall still reserve the right to request the agreement(s) between the parties, if and when deemed necessary.

* If the integration with the third-party game provider(s) does not necessitate any changes to the technical documentation or to the gaming system specifications, the Licensee can submit a declaration attesting that no changes to the mentioned documentation will be required.

** In line with the Implementing Procedures, the Licensee is reminded to update the Business Risk Assessment whenever new game providers are added, based on the risk exposure, to determine how any additional related risks can be mitigated to an acceptable level following the integration.

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Asia

Fintechs in Kazakhstan Raises Concerns Over Proposed Gambling Regulation

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Fintech companies in Kazakhstan are urging greater scrutiny of a proposed law intended to regulate betting transactions in the country.

The submitted legislation, currently in its final reading, would form a monopoly entity, the Unified Accounting System (UAS), the firms said in a joint press release. The UAS would be used to determine market participants, process payments, maintain a single “electronic wallet” and make settlements with clients. A critical concern is that it could charge up to 1.5% in commissions on all market transactions, within a market where regulated transactions exceed KZT1.2tn ($2.6bn) annually.

Irina Davidenko, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan’s payments industry, commented: “The proposed legislation would be a step backwards for Kazakhstan, harming competition in the country’s vital payments sector and signaling to the outside world that necessary business reform is being driven by shadowy interests, rather than what’s right for industries and consumers.”

The proposal, partly billed as a public health move against problem gambling, resembles a previous initiative, the Betting Accounting Centre (BAC). It was shelved in 2021 after a scandal involving a deputy minister who was dismissed for accepting bribes from BAC lobbyists, according to the press release.

The lack of transparency on the UAS structure and ownership as outlined in the legislation is another aspect of the change that is seen by critics as troubling.

The reintroduction of a UAS model occurred as late as the second reading of the legislation. If passed by parliament, it will become law without the comprehensive impact analysis and scrutiny typical for such significant regulatory change.

Observers argue the new regulation duplicates existing regulatory functions already managed by Kazakh state bodies and was proposed without the cooperation of the National Bank of Kazakhstan. The central bank has previously developed its own reform proposal that avoids introducing a monopolistic entity.

Opponents further contend that the regulation could cause “significant economic damage”. National Bank of Kazakhstan representatives and the payments industry have sounded alarm bells, but the issues have not been adequately addressed, the press release added.

The concerned fintech and payment companies want the legislation to be reconsidered. They are advocating for it to be sent back to the lower house of the legislature for a full regulatory impact analysis and thorough examination to ensure that it does not adversely affect industry or the economy.

Ilya Efimenko, commercial director of the payment organisation PayDala, said: “I appeal to the Senators, who need to know the true purpose of why the UAS has made a comeback in the bill.

“This is a re-emergence of the ‘Betting Accounting Center’ (BAC), a strikingly similar entity that was withdrawn before, and behind which, as the deputy from the Amanat party Elnur Beisenbayev said, are the powerful forces of ‘Old Kazakhstan.’

“Before our eyes, a monopolist, a private operator, is being created. The emergence of monopolies such as the UAS threatens the principles of a Fair Kazakhstan. Now everything is being done to break the financial system of Kazakhstan, recognized by experts as one of the best in Central Asia.”

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