UKGC gets into finer details of customer funds in second consultation round

UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is continuing to call for evidence from gambling industry stakeholders, discussing several key policy areas including payment-related issues.

Issuing an update to the industry, the UK’s gambling regulator revealed that it is initiating its second round of consultations on the Gambling Act review White Paper, published in April with a number of recommendations for changes to British betting regulation.

These consultations will take place over the next 12 weeks with two areas of discussion revolving around payments issues. Firstly, the UKGC wants to assess ‘transparency of protection of customer funds’.

The regulator explained that the White Paper contains ‘proposals to increase transparency to consumers if their funds are held by licensees that offer no protection in the event of insolvency’.

Additionally, customer protection tools will also be the subject of consultations, some of which have a payments edge such as deposit limits, as well as proposals relating to free bets and bonuses, which the Commission wants to ensure ‘do not encourage harmful or excessive gambling’.

Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director for research and policy, said: “The White Paper set out that a top government priority is ensuring that gambling happens safely. We share this commitment and today’s consultations propose how we can deliver on it.

“We need as many people as possible to have their say on any potential changes to the rules operators must follow. These views will ultimately help shape gambling regulation across the country.”

Other areas of interest for the Commission include the research, education and treatment (RET) levy – one of the flagship proposals of the White Paper, which will require operators to pay an annual fee to support RET activity.

Once the second consultation is concluded, a third will commence, addressing a need for greater clarity and transparency in the way financial penalties are calculated and regarding financial key event reporting by licence holders to inform UKGC risk-based regulation.

The former of these two planned consultations comes towards the tail end of a year which saw the UKGC conduct regulatory enforcements and issue financial penalties at a steady pace and high level – of note, William Hill was charged a record £19.2m in March for AML and social responsibility failings, breaking the record £17m charged to Entain a year prior.

The UKGC’s first round of consultations was initiated back in July 2023 and concluded in October, with finance risk checks – the government’s proposals to the long-debated measure of affordability checks – one of the focal points.

Under UKGC proposals, Open Banking will play a key role in how these checks are conducted. When a credit reference is needed in order for a customer to be judged financially secure to gamble, bettors will be requested to share data with third-party Open Banking firms.

Payment Expert Analysis: With the UK’s Future of Payments Review and the government’s Autumn Budget – which laid out plans for £500m investment in AI technology – both published last week, and the UKGC now launching its second round of consultations, it seems payments/fintech and gambling regulatory development are moving in lockstep….