Advertising, restrictions on withdrawals, and text marketing are to be more tightly regulated from 31 October, the Gambling Commission has announced, but which new rules are actually relevant for the amusements industry?
New rules from the Gambling Commission, which come into force from 31 October 2018, mean gambling companies that break advertising rules or breach consumer law will face tougher action.
The regulator’s new requirements, which follow an open consultation, are intended to provide stronger protection for consumers.
“Protecting the interests of consumers is a priority for us and needs to be a priority for gambling operators,”explained Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur. “These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that they can withdraw their money more easily,and will mean that firms have to deal with complaints more swiftly.”
The changes mean that it will be easier for the regulator to take action against operators, including the imposition of fines against gambling businesses that break the rules with advertisements, especially those seen to be “glamourising gambling for children”.
Furthermore, firms will also now face action for advertising failings by third party affiliates, which has become the primary marketing tool for many online gambling operators.
As well as cracking down on advertisements, the Gambling Commission has also made it quicker and easier to take action for breaches of consumer law, such as unfair and misleading practices or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals. The regulator states that firms will, at the end of October, have to provide better complaints processes, including an eight week deadline for complaints to be resolved.
Moreover, the Commission will be able to take action against gambling firms that send ‘spam’ marketing emails or texts – which may be the most relevant of all the new requirements for the amusements industry. While AGC businesses, unlike several bookmakers, have not come under any scrutiny for marketing by texts, it is a relatively common practice across all industries. As such, those businesses should ensure those receiving marketing texts don’t consider them to be ‘spam’, and if a customer asks to be taken off a marketing list, operators must ensure they are removed in good time.
Indeed – much like the regulator’s reference to “glamorising gambling for children” – the new requirements are not aimed at the amusements industry in particular. In fact,it is obvious from the language used that it is book- makers and online gambling businesses that are the Gambling Commission’s target here.
However, all gambling operators are included in the new requirements – including the amusements industry – and as usual, amusements operators need to make sure they don’t get caught in the crossfire between an empowered regulator and a online industry that can generally easily afford to pay the fine.