In mid-April, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced that a special consultation on proposed affordability checks for the local gambling industry was set to be launched. At the time, the country’s gambling regulator unveiled that the consultation was set to cover three matters of priority that were linked to the proposal – financial vulnerability, binge gambling and significant unaffordable losses generated by British gamblers.
The move was made after the watchdog responded to a previously released consultation on remote customer interaction, and another 10-week consultation that was aimed at getting some feedback for the proposed stricter measures for online gambling companies.
The participants in the previous consultation were supposed to consider and give their feedback on the proposed introduction of a £100 affordability threshold per month for all online gambling customers in the UK.
The tighter regulatory measures that have been proposed for the sector, however, caused much turbulence in the UK gambling industry, with both business owners and consumers sharing concerns claiming that the implementation of stricter affordability checks and an affordability threshold as low as £100 would have a detrimental impact on the sector.
Stricter Affordability Checks Proposed in an Effort to Ensure Better Customer Protection
With the review of the country’s Gambling Act of 2005, it has been clear that the UK Government has remained focused on the introduction of stricter regulation. At the time when the tighter measures were proposed, some analysts said that the implementation of more restrictions could be found concerning by operators, especially in the shorter term, but they would eventually help the UK Government avoid the implementation of even more intense restrictions on the industry in the longer term.
Despite these expectations, gambling operators in the UK have been concerned with the further restrictions that are constantly being imposed on the sector. They have warned that the implementation of affordability thresholds as low as £100 would have a detrimental impact on their businesses. They have claimed that such restrictions could fend off customers and push them towards services of unlicensed operations that are offering their services in the black market.
The UK Gambling Commission has previously noted that the existing thresholds for customer protection action are quite high, which makes them ineffective to prevent gambling-related harm from being inflicted on vulnerable customers. That is exactly why the gambling regulatory body has suggested that the affordability threshold should be lower, as the UKGC is trying to ensure better protection against the possible harm that could occur as a result of compulsive gambling behaviour, including the serious financial losses that are often faced by players who are unable to stop playing when they start losing a lot of money.
While the gambling industry watchdog has previously suggested that many online gambling companies are already operating in line with its customer protection standards or have at least been making efforts to do so, the regulator has considered the implementation of new restrictions necessary in order to guarantee the compliance of the whole sector.
Implementation of Tougher Regulation Would Impact Gambling Companies’ Revenues and Customer Engagement
As Casino Guardian already reported, some of the top executives in the gambling industry, and particularly in the British racing sector, have warned that the implementation of stricter affordability checks could seriously affect their revenues, with the lost revenue being potentially estimated at more than £100 million every year.
Although the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has supported the ongoing gambling review of the Government, it also raised a red flag regarding the enhanced affordability checks that are being considered, saying that the stricter rules could have a negative effect on customers’ behaviour, because gamblers could be scared off from the UK’s regulated market.
Gambling companies also noted that customers may not feel better protected by the implementation of the measure. According to some opponents of the stricter affordability checks, the move would make some users even more secretive about their gambling, with the lower threshold resulting in deteriorating of some gamblers’ addictions, as they would not be willing to share their financial details with their service providers.
Some gambling forum users have also noted that the restrictions could have a detrimental impact on the industry. Certain gamblers even believe that the implementation of a lower affordability checks threshold would make the gambling industry collapse, as bringing the spending threshold to £100 would reduce the revenue of operators on one hand, and push customers away from the regulated gambling market in the UK, on the other hand, as fewer players would be willing to provide the required details for the completion of the suggested affordability checks.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.