The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has decided to extend the consultation period for an important information gathering exercise on problem gambling.
The consultation opened on November 3 and saw the UKGC call for views and feedback from gambling industry consumers, people with lived experience, gambling industry and other stakeholders on stronger requirements for online operators when it comes to identifying consumers who may be at risk of gambling harm, as well as the preventative actions they should be required to take, a category that includes improved affordability checks and actions for vulnerable consumers.
With high engagement reported since the consultation opened last month, the UKGC has extended the call for evidence deadline by another four weeks until February 9.
Speaking about the decision, a spokesperson said that it would allow more time for detailed feedback and the building of the strongest evidence base possible.
In announcing the consultation the UKGC had said that while operators already have the ability to identify customers who may be harmed by gambling, the evidence suggests that the industry has not used this sufficiently to reduce gambling harms and it was therefore necessary to gather feedback on how to improve these processes throughout the industry.
The UKGC has proposed that operators should be required to act on the information they have concerning a consumer’s potential vulnerability. The Commission has also stated that it will aim to have licensees introduce stronger requirements, including strictly defined affordability assessments at thresholds that are set by the regulator.
It is looking to obtain stakeholder opinion on what these thresholds in the affordability assessments should be, along with the nature of these checks and how operators will be required to protect consumers after an assessment has been conducted.
The consultation is open to all stakeholders, but the Commission has said it will place a particular focus on consumers. It says that it wants to gauge how operators should identify vulnerability, and gambling that is unaffordable, and in what circumstances to take action on behalf of consumers.
Speaking about the consultation, the Executive Director at the UKGC, Tim Miller, said that they were clear on the need for operators to take more action and for the setting of firm standards:
“But we want to have an open discussion with the gambling industry, consumers, people with lived experience and other stakeholders, to ensure we strike the right balance between allowing consumer freedom and ensuring that there are protections in place to prevent gambling harm.”