Consultation response for online games design and reverse withdrawals and proposed changes to the design of online slots.
We give people the opportunity to respond to consultations to tell us what they think about how we regulate the industry or changes we are looking to make to policies.
In this consultation document, we share our intentions with regard to changing the research methodology we use to collect gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence statistics.
We believe that this new approach will set the standard for authoritative research into gambling behaviour.
As part of our duty under the Gambling Act 2005 to advise the government on gambling in Great Britain and provide an effective regulatory function, we collect gambling participation and problem gambling prevalence data via surveys of adults in Great Britain. The data are published as official statistics – meaning they are produced in accordance with the standards set out by the Government Statistical Service in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
The Commission is ambitious about improving the quality, robustness and timeliness of our statistics. We therefore set out a commitment in our 2020/21 Business Plan to ‘review our approach to measuring participation and prevalence and publish conclusions’.
We are consulting to ensure all perspectives can be heard before we move to trial a new approach.
 For consistency, we have sought to use the established language used in this area; for example the 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) was introduced as a ‘nationally representative survey of participation in gambling and the prevalence of problem gambling in Great Britain’. Both the BGPS and Health Survey series have consistently distinguished between participation and prevalence, with prevalence specifically being used to describe rates of problem gambling.
The Gambling Commission is the regulator for most forms of gambling in Britain. At the moment, we are running a consultation and calling for evidence on the actions that gambling companies should be required to take to prevent harm to their online customers. You can access the consultation/ call for evidence here. We are gathering responses from consumers, gambling businesses, charities and many others, and the closing date is 9 February 2021.
This survey provides a summary of some of the key themes we are seeking views on and includes some brief questions to help us gather perspectives from as many people as possible.
Remote gambling operators already have the capability of identifying customers who may be harmed by gambling. Our evidence shows that the industry has not used this capability sufficiently to reduce harms. We are therefore consulting on stronger requirements that will help ensure remote gambling operators do more to identify consumers who may be harmed by gambling and to interact and take action sufficiently early and effectively to prevent harm.
Whilst some operators have continued to improve their processes on customer interaction, our casework and lived experience evidence shows that operators are not setting thresholds for action at appropriate levels, and that they are not taking the appropriate action or acting quickly enough when they do identify risk of potential harm.
Where we have identified failures to meet the requirements, we have taken compliance and enforcement action, and will continue to do so where we see failings. However, it is important that all operators learn the lessons of this casework, and that we raise standards to prevent the risks for consumers. It is in the interests of consumers to ensure that minimum standards are implemented consistently across the industry and does not rely on the Commission taking enforcement action against individual operators.
As part of these new requirements, we propose that online gambling operators must act on information they have about a consumer’s vulnerability, and to introduce stronger requirements, including that operators must conduct defined affordability assessments at thresholds set by the Commission.
We are also calling for evidence on what the thresholds for these affordability assessments should be, the nature of these affordability assessments and how operators are required to protect consumers following an assessment.
We recognise that there is a need to strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling that would have an adverse financial and health impact on consumers. It is necessary for an operator to understand whether a customer is gambling beyond their means to understand the risk of such harms.
We also want to minimise the risk of unintended consequences. This consultation explores the risks we have identified and how we as the regulator, the industry and other key stakeholders, including the financial sector, could help to mitigate these risks.
For these reasons, we want an open and public dialogue on this consultation. We are particularly keen to hear directly from consumers during the consultation period on how operators should be required to identify vulnerability, and gambling which is unaffordable, and the circumstances where it is appropriate to take action on behalf of a consumer.
We want to have an open discussion with all stakeholders, but particularly consumers. As part of our engagement with consumers during the consultation, we will release further material to support discussion and enable the broadest possible range of consumers to share their views.
Our aim as a result of this consultation is to better protect vulnerable consumers and to prevent gambling related harms.
We are consulting on changes to the design of online slots - specifically to make them safer for consumers.
We know that the success of many technology companies, digital content creators and gaming machine games designers depends on their ability to establish and maintain the engagement of their consumers on their web, mobile apps and – in premises – gaming machines.
We also know that speed of play, frequency of betting opportunities, as well as other factors on offer can increase addiction and risk of harm. The proposed changes outlined within this document will help to mitigate these risks for slots players.
Our interest in online slots is because it is the largest online gambling product by Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) - played by relatively few but with a high average spend. Structurally it has a number of features which can combine to significantly increase intensity of play.
This means it poses a relatively high risk, reflected in its associated problem and moderate-risk gambling rates.
We will evaluate the impact of the controls and friction proposed in this consultation to reduce the intensity of the play experience for consumers and will take further action if necessary.
Proposals around the design of slots games are just the first step in keeping players safe. Slots is an area which has seen technological innovation in terms of product design and we expect operators to continually show an equal, and indeed greater, commitment to innovate in terms of consumer protection.
Regulatory intervention needs to keep pace with this and the proposals in this consultation form part of a comprehensive package of work we are taking forward to make online gambling safer.
Through effective licensing and regulatory enforcement activity, the Commission aims to protect consumers and the wider public, and to raise standards in the gambling industry.
There are a variety of ways that the Commission can deal with non-compliance by Licensees, ranging from enhanced compliance procedures and regulatory settlements to licence reviews and formal enforcement action.The Commission is also responsible for determining applications for new operating and personal licences and ensuring that those that hold a licence remain suitable to do so.
Cases can be referred to a Regulatory Panel for determination at the request of the Applicant/ Licensee and/or if their scale, complexity, or novelty are of strategic importance to the Commission.
Due to changes in the gambling market and gambling regulation, the cases that are heard by Regulatory Panels are becoming increasingly complex and legalistic.
We are consulting on a number of proposals to ensure that our Regulatory Panels are best equipped to deal with our evolving casework.
Our data requirements change over time, reflecting developments in the gambling industry, government policy and our regulatory approach.
This consultation sets out the Gambling Commission’s proposals to change the regulatory data that we require licensees to provide to us and offers an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the proposed changes.
The proposals seek to:
- improve data quality and the efficiency of regulation
- reflect our continued focus on consumers and social responsibility
- ensure requirements are reconciled against our current and future data needs
- streamline our existing requirements and, where possible, reduce regulatory burden.
Guiding these proposals is the principle that we only request data that supports our regulatory aims, at the appropriate time and by the most efficient means.
Read the consultation consultation about consultation on the information requirements in the licence conditions and codes of practice (lccp), regulatory returns, official statistics and related matters
This consultation seeks views on proposals to amend our Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) to improve the consistency of our requirements for the display of licensed status on websites and to expand the requirement to non-commercial societies and local authority websites offering access to lottery tickets.
In exercising our functions, we aim always to uphold the licensing objectives of keeping crime out of gambling, ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way and that children and vulnerable people are protected from being harmed or exploited by gambling.
In the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) condition 2 relates to technical standards, equipment specifications, remote gambling equipment and gambling software.
Licence condition 2.1.1 relates to remote casino, bingo and betting licences other than ancillary licences and remote betting intermediary (trading room only) licences. It requires an operator wanting to add to or relocate key equipment to a different jurisdiction to apply to the Commission for a variation to the licence, under section 104 of the Act, before the changes are made.
Key events are notifications made to us by licence holders of matters that significantly impact their business. Key event 184.108.40.206 requires licensees to report, amongst other matters, the change of location of key equipment within a jurisdiction.
In June 2018 the Government published a consultation on society lottery reform, seeking views on potential changes to sales and prize limits for large and small society lotteries.
In July 2019, the Government announced that it intends to amend section 99 (3) of the Gambling Act 2005 to raise the per draw limit on lottery proceeds (ticket sales) from £4 million to £5 million, with the result that the maximum individual prize will raise from £400,000 to £500,000.
In addition, the annual aggregate proceeds limit will rise from £10 million to £50 million. The Gambling Commission is required by section 99 of the Act to attach conditions to lottery operating licences for the purposes of achieving the requirements of section 99.
So the current limits, which are reflected in licence conditions attached to all society lottery operating licences, will also need to be amended to reflect the changes.
The reasons for changes to, and levels at which the limits will be set are explained in the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport’s responses document ‘Government response to the consultation on society lottery reform’, which can be found here.
We are also looking at the current regulatory requirements to ensure that issues related to the fair and open licensing objective, regarding transparency to consumers, are addressed.
We are seeking views on strengthening some aspects of the licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) and producing guidance related to information available to consumers.
This consultation will be of interest to consumers of lottery products, licensees and prospective licensees, charities and organisations concerned with gambling and social responsibility; and academics and organisations with an interest in lotteries.
The Gambling Commission conducted a call for evidence on gambling with credit cards between February and May 2019. The exercise was underpinned by advice from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) that gambling with borrowed money is a well-established risk factor for harmful gambling because it significantly increases the risk that consumers will gamble with more money than they can afford.
We wanted to explore the consequences of restricting or prohibiting the use of credit cards and noted that the need for regulatory intervention would be more likely if evidence indicates insufficient consumer protections to reduce the risks of harm from gambling with borrowed money. We said we would use the evidence submitted as part of this exercise to develop further detailed proposals for consultation.
We received 110 responses to the call for evidence from a range of stakeholders including members of the public, debt relief charities, gambling operators, financial services and some individuals who considered that they had suffered significant financial harm from using credit cards to fund their gambling.
A summary of responses to the call for evidence can be found here.
We received a range of supporting data from the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and from financial institutions, in response to the data requests we outlined in our call for evidence. We also received data from some debt relief charities and made further use of our quarterly participation tracker data and other contextual information such as You Gov statistics. Relevant data has been summarised and is included as part of this consultation.
Test houses play a key role in ensuring that games are suitable to be released to market and offered to consumers. We therefore need to be assured of their independence, competence and suitability.
To achieve this assurance, we are proposing changes to the framework under which test houses operate. This consultation focuses on four main areas. These proposals flow from the first and second licensing objectives of keeping crime out of gambling and to ensure gambling is conducted in a fair and open way.
Supplementary consultation on proposed LCCP changes for alternative dispute resolution.
Survey to obtain feedback on Assurance Statement Workshops 2019
This call for evidence provides an opportunity for the industry to put forward clear plans to meet the challenges set out in the (the gambling review). It also seeks to gain further insight into the harm prevention measures already afforded to players of Category B gaming machines.
There are clear incentives for the industry to demonstrate a commitment to enhance the effectiveness of player protections on Category B gaming machines. These include the:
- potential to use player data to understand patterns of play and offer a more personalised customer experience
- prospect of changes to stakes, prizes and machine allowances where industry can demonstrate that it can manage the risk of gambling-related harm effectively
- opportunity to focus on what works and pre-empt more direct regulatory intervention, which could entail mandatory controls or a review of key game characteristics such as speed of play.
Despite this, our recent engagement with industry has highlighted two concerning trends:
- Efforts to develop a clear framework to trial meaningful controls have been inconsistent and, in some instances, non-existent.
- The risks associated with Category B3 machines has been acknowledged by some, but not all sections of the industry.
There has been some progress, with trials to explore different forms of harm prevention such as safer gambling messaging and piloting of tracked play in a number of gambling premises. However, we have seen little evidence of a clear and coherent commitment to explore the risks associated with gambling on all Category B gaming machines.
On 1 April 2019, the maximum stake on Category B2 gaming machines (FOBTs) will be reduced from £100 to £2. As a result, Category B3 machines, sited in arcades and bingo halls, will offer the same maximum stake level as B2s but at 8 times the speed of play and without the same level of built-in player protections (speed of play refers to the length of time it takes to complete a game cycle. On Category B3 machines each game cycle must last at least 2.5 seconds, compared to a minimum of 20 seconds on B2 machines. A game cycle starts when a player presses the ‘start button’ or otherwise initiates the game, and ends when all money staked or won during the game has either been lost or delivered to, or made available for collection by, the player, and the start button again becomes available to initiate the next game).
In our formal extending existing Category B2 protections to Category B1 and B3 machines. We reached this conclusion in the light of indicators from player data that the risks associated with B3 machines are similar to the risks associated with B2 machines.
We plan to undertake further analysis of Category B machine data to improve our understanding of patterns of play. We intend to:
- review more recent data to evaluate changes in player behaviour before and after the B2 stake reduction. This will help us to identify whether problematic play on B2s has been diverted onto other category B machines
- explore options to conduct further analyses in the longer term to monitor the impact of player protection controls on Category B machines.
Consumers, gambling operators and members of the public are being invited to voice their opinion on proposed changes to Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) and to provide views on gambling blocking software.
LCCP consultation on Customer Interaction
We are consulting on changes to the LCCP social responsibility (SR) code provision 3.4.1 (Customer Interaction) and associated ordinary code provision 3.4.2.
These code provisions apply to all types of operating licence except non-remote lotteries, gaming machine technical, gambling software and host licences. A separate code provision applies to all lotteries, which is out of scope of this consultation.
This consultation will be of particular interest to gambling businesses, but responses are welcomed from all stakeholders, in particular consumers who may wish to bring their own experiences into this discussion.
LCCP consultation on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) - requiring licensees to only use providers that meet our additional standards
We have been looking closely at how complaints processes in the gambling industry are working for consumers. Part of that review focused on the provision of ADR.
All ADR providers must meet the requirements in government regulations. We decided to set out a framework of extra requirements for ADR providers in the gambling sector. The framework would include standards around customer service, decision making and supporting the gambling industry. Our aim was to make the role of an ADR provider clearer, improve consistency, and help to reassure consumers that a provider is independent of the gambling business. We would then review all approved providers against the additional standards in our new framework.
A call for evidence on gambling website blocking software
We would like to obtain views on whether we should extend the existing expectation (that operators should signpost blocking software to consumers) so that operators have to provide access to gambling blocking software free of charge to customers. We would also like views on how this could most effectively be delivered.
We are developing a new national strategy to reduce gambling harms working with all the bodies that will be part of delivering the strategy. We are seeking your views on the five proposed priority areas for action over the life of the strategy.
We are also conducting a formal consultation under Section 24 of the Gambling Act 2005 on proposed amendments to the LCCP requirement on gambling businesses to contribute to research, prevention and treatment, and associated arrangements needed to deliver the strategy.
Please note that we have amended the PDF version of the consultation which was originally published below. The graphics are now fully displayed.
Read the consultation consultation about discussion on a new national strategy to reduce gambling harms, and consultation on proposed amendments to lccp requirements on gambling businesses to contribute to research, prevention and treatment
This informal consultation will be of interest to all gambling operators, particularly remote operators who hold customer funds to the credit of customers as defined in .
In accordance with Licence Condition 4.2.1, operators who hold customer funds must set out information about their arrangements for protecting these funds in the event of insolvency, the level of that protection and the method by which this is achieved.
This consultation is relevant to all remote gaming and betting licensees, and some remote lotteries. The proposals would also affect consumers of remote gambling.
We encourage any licensee or prospective licensees, along with consumers and members of the public, to share their views and any supporting evidence or insight.
We are also keen to hear from identity verification solution providers, in particular where they can provide details of technological and information capabilities.
To maintain transparency to customers when the exclusive horse-race pool betting licence ends on 12 July of this year, we propose to extend the existing requirement, set out in our Licence conditions and codes of practice, that currently applies only to pool betting on dog races to also apply to horse-race pool betting.
Why we are consulting
This is a short consultation that is relevant mainly to businesses that may wish to offer horse-race pool betting on racecourses in the future.
The Licensee must make available on any day a system (referred to as ‘the public display system’) for displaying in a prompt and accurate manner, in respect of each individual pool available on that day wherever, or through whatever means, the Licensee is conducting a pool betting business.