UKGC to crackdown on advertising and consumer law breaches

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The Gambling Commission has highlighted a crackdown on operators’ treatment of consumers, by issuing a new set of rules to deal with advertising and consumer law breaches, which are set to come into force from October 31 of this year.

Designed to provide stronger protection whilst ensuring gambling organisations treat consumers in a fair manner, this introduction follows an open consultation period, and allows the industry regulator to act upon breaches more promptly and easily.  

Detailing the process, the commission stated in its consultation response: “We have considered all the responses to our consultation on changes to the Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP). We have taken the decision to strengthen requirements on licensees in key areas, in order to ensure gambling is fair and open for consumers.”

Adding: “We received an unprecedented level of consumer interest in our consultation with widespread support for the proposals. In addition to the specific issues covered by the consultation we received a number of responses concerning the restricting or closing of gambling accounts for commercial purposes.

“In the absence of new legal or regulatory requirements, we consider the steps taken by some licensees to adopt minimum bet guarantees on a voluntary basis to be a sensible approach. Such initiatives, where implemented in good faith, indicate a willingness to listen to and act on consumers’ concerns.”

Breaking down further what the changes mean for operators, it is detailed that:

  • It will be easier to take action, including imposing fines, against gambling businesses that break the advertising rules (such as advertising that appeals particularly to children or glamourises gambling)
  • Firms will face action for advertising failings by third party affiliates
  • It will be quicker and easier to take action for breaches of consumer law (such as unfair and misleading practices or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals)
  • Firms will have to provide better complaints processes, including an eight week deadline for complaints to be resolved
  • Action can be taken against gambling firms that send spam marketing emails or texts.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “Protecting the interests of consumers is a priority for us and needs to be a priority for gambling operators.

“These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that they can withdraw their money more easily, and will mean that firms have to deal with complaints more swiftly.”