Gambling Commission Introducing Stricter Rules from September

Tougher rules are being introduced by the Gambling Commission as they try to protect addicts and vulnerable people. It’s the latest sign of increased regulation of the UK gambling industry.

Recent months have seen the Gambling Commission issuing companies with fines. This relates to the way they protect customers who may be or are already at risk of gambling harm. 888 were fined over £9m and Camelot (who currently run the National Lottery) over £3m.

The Gambling Commission have acted after seeing problem gamblers being allowed to continue betting high amounts at gambling sites. Either no action is taken or that which does take place is either unsatisfactory or isn’t taken soon enough. There are also problems in dealing with confirming that customers have sufficient funds to be able to gamble at the level they do.

A new set of rules has now been drawn up by the frustrated Gambling Commission. These will be sent out in June and take effect from 12 September of this year. The new rules will require operators to flag indicators of gambling harm and act “in a timely manner.” They must also “monitor a specific range of indicators, as a minimum to identify gambling harm.”

One area that has caused companies to be fined is in marketing. Sending out details of new promotions and bonuses must not be sent out to customers who may be at risk. This has previously happened with Sky Bet.

Andrew Rhodes is the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission. His comments on the new rules show that they have lost patience with operators who are licensed with them. He commented: “Time and time again our enforcement cases show that some operators are still not doing enough to prevent gambling harm. These new rules, developed following an extensive consultation, make our expectations even more explicit.”

Rather than leaving the operators to decide how to deal with at risk customers, the Gambling Commission will issue direct instructions themselves. The new rules, “make our expectations even more explicit,” said Rhodes. He added: “we will not hesitate to take tough action on operators who fail to do so.”

It’s a worrying time for gambling companies as regulation edges ever closer. The government review into the 2005 Gambling Act is on its way with a white paper out soon. Companies have already been preparing for what may lie ahead as the Gambling Commission fines get larger and larger.

For example, William Hill say they have put £15m aside to deal with the costs that may arise if the Gambling Commission reviewed their licence. The fear is that more fines could be on the way in the future.