The MGA has changed its Player Protection Directive stating that safe, sustainable and responsible gaming is of “paramount importance”.

Bojoko has published its latest industry report as the online casino comparison site asks a variety of stakeholders whether impending changes to VIP schemes go far enough.

This follows the publication of revised rules by the UK Gambling Commission last month around how its licensees must operate and manage VIP schemes and high value customers, with the regulator asserting that it is striving to “clean up the malpractice of so-called VIP schemes”.

The rules come into force from October 31 and require operators to conduct enhanced affordability and responsible gambling checks before awarding VIP status to a player. 

Furthermore, they are also required to keep up to date evidence of a player’s identity, occupation and where their gambling funds come from, as well as a full audit trail on all VIPs.

While the Bojoko team believes an outright ban is the only way to properly protect players, the firm says that the majority of operators do not believe that abolishing VIP schemes is the best way forward.

Joonas Karhu, chief business officer at Bojoko, commented: “The Gambling Commission’s new requirements should ensure that players are better protected, but, in all honesty, they do not include anything that operators should not have been doing already. 

“Ultimately, the purpose of a VIP scheme remains the same and that is to encourage high value players to wager significant amounts at the casino month in month out. 

“The industry must ask whether this is something it really wants to be doing and whether anything other than an outright ban is enough to ensure that no player becomes addicted or spends more than they can afford because they are a VIP.”

However, James Booth, head of acquisition at Lindar Media, countered: “In the case of VIP schemes, banning them pushes the larger operators out of the market and more unregulated casinos benefit while the government loses out on POC tax. I certainly think tweaks can be made to regulation but in most cases, including this one, abolition is not the answer.”

The new requirements were widely expected and came after a two-month consultation with various industry stakeholders, including a working group led by the Betting and Gaming Council and GVC.

Brigid Simmonds, chairperson of the BGC, stated: “Through robust know your customer checks for every single existing VIP and new VIPs, as well as increased transparency and accountability, we believe that our operators have the necessary structures in place to ensure high value customers are enjoying gambling safely.”

The report also provides insight and guidance for what operators can do to ensure they are ready for the changes when they come into force at the end of the month. 

Karhu added: “We have created this report to gauge how the wider industry feels about the Gambling Commission’s decision to tighten its rules around high value customers and VIP schemes.

“It seems most operators feel the new rules do go far enough, but the regulator has made clear this is their last chance to ensure they run VIP schemes responsibly and that players are properly protected. If not, and outright ban has not been ruled out.

“As such, the report also offers guidance on how operators can meet these new requirements and some of the changes they should make in order to ensure players, especially high value customers, are protected at all times.”