New plans to make gambling online in Britain safer than ever before have been announced by the Gambling Commission with a potential ban on credit cards on the horizon.
In a statement the Gambling Commission said it would ‘consider whether gambling on credit should continue to be permitted.’
“The Commission is going to assess the effectiveness of the current tools available to consumers to manage their gambling and review gambling product characteristics to identify whether particular features pose greater risk of harm than others. We will review our requirements on the protection of customer funds and consider whether there are sufficient protections around dormant accounts and consider whether we need to make changes to ensure that consumers can withdraw funds more easily.”
Statistics show that industry profits from the sector have grown 10 per cent to 4.7bn in the last year, and public participation has increased from 15.5 per cent in 2014 to 18.3 per cent in 2017. It is estimated that nine million people across Britain gamble online.
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said: “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.
“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.”
Tracey Crouch Minister for Sport and Civil Society 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 Commission is looking at further protecting children by banning operators from providing free-to-play demo games until a consumer’s age has been determined and improving the speed and effectiveness of age verification processes
It also wants to ensure operators set limits on consumers’ spending until affordability checks have been conducted. It wants to tackle unacceptable marketing and advertising and unfair terms, and improving complaints and disputes procedures and strengthen requirements to interact with consumers who may be experiencing, or are at risk of developing, problems with their gambling.
Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked, a solution provider for online retailers of age-restricted goods and services, believes the new rules have been long overdue.
“The plans by the Gambling Commission to introduce compulsory age checks on gambling websites is a really positive move for online child protection, especially given that some gambling operators are using cartoon characters in games that are likely to appeal to children,” he said. “According to the Gambling Commission itself, around 25,000 children have already developed gambling problems, with another 36,000 at risk of becoming addicted. Age checks have been called for by parents and child protection organisations for a number of years, so it’s encouraging to see that their concerns are finally being listened to.
“The UK is taking a leading role when it comes to online child protection, first with the move to introduce age checks on adult content websites, and now on gambling sites. Every initiative of this scale makes a significant step towards having the same protections online as those that have been established in the real world. We wouldn’t let our children access age restricted products and services in the physical world, but for too long, it’s been all too easy to by-pass age limits online.”