‘Light touch’ financial checks for online gamblers coming into force from August

“Light touch” financial vulnerability checks for gamblers will come into force from August, the regulator has confirmed.

Checks will initially come into force for online gambling customers spending £500 a month from August 30, before reducing to £150 a month from February 28 next year, the Gambling Commission said.

It said the move would help to identify acutely financially vulnerable online customers, such as those subject to bankruptcy orders or with a history of unpaid debts.

The Government’s White Paper on gambling reform proposed that “enhanced financial checks” would be triggered by a spend of £1,000 in 24 hours or £2,000 in 90 days, to prevent harm from online gamblers accumulating unaffordable losses, but politicians have repeatedly promised that any checking would be frictionless.

As well as light touch checks, the commission said a pilot of enhanced frictionless financial risk assessments will go ahead, aimed at preventing cases where customers are able to spend large amounts in a short time without any checks, resulting in significant gambling harm.

The pilot, which is expected to last six months and will not take place in a live environment, will see the commission work with credit reference agencies and gambling operators to assess potential customer impact.

The commission also announced new rules on igaming products from January 17 which will ban features which speed up the time for a result to be shown, or that can give the illusion of control such as “turbo” or “slam stops”.

Autoplay features will be banned and audio or visual celebrations of returns less than or equal to the stake are to be removed.

Operator-led functions which allow gamblers to play multiple games simultaneously such as roulette and blackjack tables will also be banned, alongside casino games spin speeds of less than five seconds – excluding peer-to-peer poker.

From August 30, land-based operators must have procedures that require staff to check the age of any customer who appears to be under 25, as opposed to under 21.

Gambling Commission chief executive Andrew Rhodes said: “As a gambling regulator it’s vital that the introduction of new rules is based on evidence and takes into account the views of consumers and other interested parties.

“We have listened to the views expressed in our engagement and in the consultation responses, and we have made changes while still ensuring that we deliver meaningful protections.

“We are also pleased to be taking forward a pilot of financial risk assessments and data collection, which together will ensure that we can make informed decisions about how these assessments can be implemented in a way that supports both consumer freedom and protections.

“We have to get the balance right between protecting people from the potentially life-ruining effects of gambling-related harm and respecting the freedom of adults to engage in an activity that the vast majority do so without experiencing harm.”

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