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UK Gambling Commission and industry collaboration makes progress on safer gambling

George Miller

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UK Gambling Commission and industry collaboration makes progress on safer gambling
Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

  • Under 25s to be restricted from joining VIP schemes
  • Tightened controls to be introduced for other VIP customers
  • Online advertising rules strengthened to better protect vulnerable groups
  • Progress made on safer product design but industry must go further

Collaborative work with the industry has led to progress following three challenges laid down by the Gambling Commission to make gambling safer and reduce harm across the sector.

The work will lead to restrictions and prevention of under 25s being recruited to VIP schemes, a reduction on intensity of play such as the speed of spin and removing turbo buttons, and a joint effort to shield children and young people from online gambling advertising.

The Gambling Commission welcomes the recommendations made by the industry on safer products but challenges the industry to go further.

This new approach to accelerate progress to protect consumers from gambling harm was set by the Commission’s chief executive, Neil McArthur, in October 2019. Working groups made up of senior leaders from the industry were formed in January 2020 – concentrating on use of VIP incentives, safer advertising online and the use of safer product design.

The Industry working groups featured over 30 operators, co-ordinated by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).  As part of this work, the Commission ran workshops with people with first-hand experience of gambling harm, as well as collaborating with GamCare to ensure that its service users’ experience would also help inform any outcomes.

Those involved in the work will continue to develop and rapidly implement the proposals, with some measures around VIP customers being implemented as soon as April 14.

The Commission will now launch formal consultations on these areas to ensure that the new measures are incorporated into its regulatory framework – which means that all operators will have to abide by the new consumer protection rules.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive said: “We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products.  We set these challenges in order to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk. However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already. 

“By working together with operators and seeking the views of people with lived experience of gambling harm we have been able to make significant progress, although there is always more to do. We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.

 “Whilst we are encouraged by industry proposals for making gambling products safer we now call on operators to implement those proposals rapidly; but the proposals do not go far enough and we will now consider what additional measures we should impose on operators. 

 “I recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak will impact on next steps and actions, in particular land-based operators. I welcome the fact that the operators involved and the BGC have remained committed to progressing this work during these difficult times. That is a positive sign of their commitment to make the industry safer.”

“Ultimately actions speak louder than words and any operator that does not put consumer safety first will find itself a target for enforcement action.”

Industry progress so far in these areas, and the Gambling Commission’s response and next steps:

Use of VIP incentives

This group was established to develop an industry code which addressed poor practices around the treatment and incentivisation of high value and high spending customers also known as ‘VIPs’. The industry has agreed to:

  • Restrict and prevent customers under 25 years of age from being recruited to high value customer schemes.
  • All customers must first pass thorough checks relating to spend, safer gambling and enhanced due diligence before becoming eligible for high value customer incentives.
  • Reward programmes will also be required to have full audit trails detailing decision making with specified senior oversight and accountability.

The Gambling Commissions response:

  • The Commission will now consult on permanent changes to the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP).
  • The Commission expects the industry to implement its code as soon as possible and considers most measures should be implemented within 3 months.
  • The Commission will monitor and support implementation of the industry’s code as an interim measure.


Safer advertising online

This Advertising Technology challenge was aimed at reducing the amount of online advertising seen by children, young people and vulnerable adults. Actions taken immediately by the industry and to be in place by July 2020 include:

  • A common list of negative search terms (e.g. how do I self-exclude from gambling?) and suppression websites, which will help shield vulnerable groups from online gambling ads.
  • Better and more consistent use of customer data to ensure paid-for-ads are targeting away from vulnerable groups across social media platforms, instead of targeting for business
  • Implement an approach which means that advertising is only targeted at +25 age in social media and “Pay Per Click” advertising where platform facilities permit. This will protect young people and increase confidence in the social media platforms’ own age-gating
  • Age-gating YouTube channels and content
  • Adopting and rolling out to all affiliates a code of conduct which will be amended and updated on a regular basis to ensure all measures undertaken by the industry will be implemented equally by affiliates.

These measures will be adopted across the industry as soon as possible and in any event enshrined in the IGRG’s Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising (subject to consultation with Bingo Association and BACTA) and effective by July 2020.

Further, the Working Group will:

  • Establish a permanent cross-industry Adtech Forum to ensure an on-going focus on making further progress in this area, including conducting and evaluating trials of advertising technology.
  • Continue the proactive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders (including platforms) on agreed areas of work, with the aim of continually setting the highest standards in responsible digital advertising and marketing and ensuring that all relevant technology is utilised to achieve that.
  • Work with the Gambling Commission to publish and promote consumer advice, and work with online platforms and broadcasters to identify a more effective, simple and consistent approach, with regard to blocking gambling advertising.
  • Commit to monitoring and evaluating all actions to ensure only effective solutions are pursued.

The Gambling Commission’s response:

  • The Gambling Commission’s view is that the industry has developed an appropriate set of commitments which should help further limit exposure to online gambling adverts by vulnerable groups.
  • The Commission recognises that the online advertising ecosystem is complex, and some progress will be dependent on third parties, such as the social media platforms. In these instances, we expect industry to work collaboratively with the platforms to identify and implement further solutions.
  • By virtue of their inclusion in the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, The Commission will now hold operators to account for these commitments from July.


Safer products

These groups were tasked with developing an industry code for responsible product and game design.  Industry commitment from this work so far includes:

  • A minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds on all slots.
  • Removal of game features which may encourage intensive play such as slam stops and turbo buttons.
  • Removal of split-screen slots which have been associated with potential loss of control.
  • A more detailed work plan which will include in-game messaging and the creation of a Betting and Gaming Council Testing Lab to look into other game features.
  • Publication of the final code in September 2020.

The Gambling Commission’s response:

  • The Gambling Commission’s view is that while some progress has been made, this work must now go further and faster, in particular around using demographics and behaviours to indicate risk.
  • The Gambling Commission will now consult on the priority areas for immediate action as soon as possible.

Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the new standards body the Betting and Gaming Council said: “I am pleased with our members’ hard work and continued commitment to delivering substantial progress on the three safer gambling challenges set by the Gambling Commission on high value customers, advertising and game design. The progress reported today including restricting under 25’s from qualifying for high value customer accounts; strengthened advertising rules and games with slower speeds and the removal of some functionality comes despite difficult operating circumstances during the COVID-19 crisis. These measures, along with our recently announced 10 pledge action plan for COVID-19 safer gambling and our 22 industry safer gambling commitments will significantly transform and improve the environment for our customers and the wider public.  We agree with the Gambling Commission that there is still more work to do and we will rise to the ongoing challenge.”

This update coincides with the publication of the Gambling Commission’s 2020/21 business plan which includes commitment to driving forward these areas of work in regulatory requirements for the whole industry.

Industry News

OneTouch transports players to Neon 2077

George Miller

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OneTouch transports players to Neon 2077
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Mobile-first games developer unveils latest futuristic offering

Mobile-first games developer OneTouch is giving players a glimpse into the future with the launch of cyberpunk release Neon 2077.

Featuring out-of-this-world graphics, only those interested in transporting to a futuristic universe packed with new age themed symbols and a love of techno sound effects need apply.

This 5×1 horizontal reel offering challenges players to match the bonus symbols with any of the symbols above it, with blanks in the main reel also filled with the bonus symbol.

Bonus Reel symbols are also counted as game symbols and when combined offer the potential to win big, giving players several chances to make their future a winning one.

Ollie Castleman, Head of Marketing, OneTouch, said: “We are always looking to push the boundaries in slot innovation, and we have demonstrated that with Neon 2077.

“This latest game is sure to appeal both to traditional players who love the neon theme from a bygone era, as well as players who enjoy social gaming and highly evolved slots.”

OneTouch is rapidly becoming one of the most trusted and recognised suppliers across all major markets and has recently announced a number of high-profile operator deals.

Its full range of slots and classic table games can be played at www.onetouch.io.

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Press Releases

REALISTIC GAMES LAUNCHES BAR-X™ GAME CHANGER IN COLLABORATION WITH ELECTROCOIN

George Miller

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REALISTIC GAMES LAUNCHES BAR-X™ GAME CHANGER IN COLLABORATION WITH ELECTROCOIN
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Award-winning content developer Realistic Games has launched its next Game Changer title, Bar–X™ Game Changer, based on the iconic land-based brand.

After announcing a landmark partnership with Electrocoin, the supplier has taken the classic Bar-X™ brand to online slot players, featuring the ground-breaking Game Changer bonus round to add a unique and modern twist to the gameplay.

The 5-reel, 20-win line title features over two million game boards in the bonus round, which is triggered by any combination of boxed symbols forming around the edge of the reels.

Players move around the board by rolling random dice, landing on either a prize symbol or potentially losing square for a chance to win up to 1000x their bet. All prizes in the bonus round are double that in the base game, creating even greater winning potential. There’s even a no lose board!

Bar-X™ Game Changer launched exclusively across the GVC brands for a two-week period on the 13th May, before going to the network on the 28th May.

Robert Lee, Commercial Director of Realistic Games, said: “Bar-X™ is an absolute classic that has kept players entertained in land-based venues all over the world for decades and we are proud to reignite the game for online players with this quality release.

“By adding our widely popular Game Changer bonus round to the slot we have added extra levels of excitement whilst staying true to the original look and feel of the Bar-X™ brand. We’re expecting this combination to be an instant hit across the board, engaging with both fans of Electrocoin as well as new audiences.”

Gabino Stergides, President of Electrocoin, added: “We are extremely excited to be the first brand that Realistic have used for their innovative new Game Changer concept.  I’m sure players will love the combination and we look forward to the second branded game in the series.”

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Press Releases

Play’n GO Release another ‘Wilde’ Adventure Slot

George Miller

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Play’n GO Release another ‘Wilde’ Adventure Slot
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Play’n GO have announced their latest release today, another chapter in the adventures of their most prominent character Rich Wilde titled Rich Wilde and the Shield of Athena.

Rich Wilde has spawned a string of successful games for the slot supplier, with previous adventures including Pearls of India, Book of Dead and his most recent outing Tome of Madness.

Rich Wilde and the Shield of Athena is a 5×3 slot that sees the infamous explorer travel to the lost city of Atlantis in search of the legendary Shield wielded by the goddess Athena.

Once again Play’n GO have created a slot with mythological origins and have taken it further. The theme is based around the Aegis, a fabled shield bearing the head of the gorgon Medusa, whose gaze could turn people to stone.

The narrative has also been extended to the game’s re-spin feature Wilde Re-Spins, which sets winning paylines in stone before re-spinning, giving players the chance to collect more wins through the re-spin.

Rich Wilde is a popular character in the slot world, and CEO Johan Törnqvist spoke about his latest adventure:

“Rich Wilde is a beloved slot character, and we know players are always ready for another adventure. But it’s important that we make sure that his games, like our other titles, are of the highest quality, and worthy of the name.

Shield of Athena is an amazing game, visually stunning with entertaining features for players to enjoy; the perfect game to continue Rich Wilde’s legacy!”

Rich Wilde and the Shield of Athena is available to play online today.

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