UK Gambling Commission proposes changes to online licensing conditions

The UK Gambling Commission has proposed new rules to better protect online gamblers and prevent children from accessing games.

The Gambling Commission has identified five issues that require immediate action and another five that will be subject to further assessment over the coming year.

The proposed changes prohibit online gambling operators from offering access to free-to-play games until a consumers age has been determined, in a move designed to prevent children from accessing such games.

The regulator has also called for improved speed and effectiveness in completing age verification processes, and introduced a requirement for operators to set limits on consumer's spending until affordability checks have been conducted.

Other proposed changes aim to tackle what the regulator describes as unacceptable marketing and advertising and unfair terms, including improving complaints and disputes procedures, as well as strengthening requirements for operators to interact with consumers who may be experiencing, or are at risk of developing, problems with their gambling.

"Britain has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world and we are continually looking for ways to make it even fairer and safer for consumers," said Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur.

"The proposals we have announced today are intended to protect children better, reduce the risks to vulnerable consumers and build on the measures we already impose on operators to know their customers and intervene at an earlier stage before consumers experience harm."

This will be followed over the course of the year by further work to assess the effectiveness of current tools available to consumers to manage their gambling, as well as a review of gambling products characteristics to identify whether particular features pose greater risk of harm than others.

The Gambling Commission will also consider whether betting on credit should be allowed to continue, and whether any changes are needed to ensure that consumers can withdraw funds more easily. This will include a review of existing protections for customer funds and whether sufficient protection exists for dormant accounts.

Commenting on the new rules, minister for sport and civil society, Tracy Crouch, said: "We are committed to ensuring the gambling industry is safe and sustainable. These proposals for additional regulations will strengthen the controls already in place and further safeguard children and vulnerable people from the risks of online gambling."

The proposed safeguards will be introduced as changes to the Gambling Commission's Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice and will be open to consultation.


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