The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has upped its commitment to reducing gambling-related harm in 2020, placing particular emphasis upon the online gambling sector.
Publishing its ‘2020/21 Business Plan‘, the UKGC outlined five strategic priorities which will be ‘centred around making gambling safer’.
The regulator highlighted the need for improved consumer protection, prevention of harm, improvements to the way the UKGC regulates the industry, improvement of standards in the gambling industry and the optimisation of returns to good causes from lotteries.
Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “We begin a new financial year in extraordinary circumstances, the Covid-19 virus will bring significant challenges for us all, including the gambling industry. With social distancing measures in place people are more likely to feel isolated and now more than ever operators must ensure that consumer safety is paramount.
“Gambling-related harm must be drastically reduced and if operators cannot protect customers from harm we are ready and willing to act; if necessary we will use our powers to suspend and revoke operating and personal licences.
“Since our review of online gambling in 2018 we have tightened age and ID verification rules, strengthened rules around customer interaction, and unfair terms and conditions and most recently we banned gambling on credit cards. This year we will continue to deliver our recommendations by addressing VIP incentives and making online advertising and online gambling products safer.
At the start of the year, McArthur urged industry leaders to improve consumer standards across gambling verticals, citing 2018 data which revealed that consumer trust had shrunk to 30%.
McArthur warned industry leadership that ‘betting cannot afford to disconnect from its consumer responsibilities’.
“The volume and complexity of our work continues to grow. However, we will continue to focus our resources on the areas that have maximum impact for the greatest number of consumers and will make sure we have the capacity and capability to keep pace with emerging issues and risks that regulating a complex industry requires.”
The UKGC revealed plans to establish the case for changes to fees and provide advice to DCMS, which it hopes to achieve by Q2 2020. Meanwhile, improvements to the licencing process is expected to be in place by Q4.