UK’s new gambling minister Chris Philp said gambling companies could be forced to ask punters for payslips to prevent unaffordable losses citing “a moral obligation” when it comes to problem gambling. This falls in line with Philp’s proposals for a more strict regulatory environment that would reduce industry revenues.
The minister spoke at the annual conference of GambleAware, the charity administering funding for programmes to reduce gambling addiction, and said: “I have heard too many stories of people who lost obviously unaffordable amounts of money without proper checks being made by the gambling operators who had the data available. I have also heard about direct marketing, offers and VIP treatment being targeted at people with manifest gambling problems. This is not how gambling should operate, and we must take decisive measures to change it”.
He also said a white paper outlining government proposals, which will be published early next year, could include affordability checks, which would stop operators intervening only when a customer had lost large sums and it was “far too late”.
Philp recognized that demanding payslips or bank statements from every customer spending £100 “is probably going to be unwelcome, disruptive and disproportionate”. However, he also deemed it appropriate. Data credit rating agencies could also be used to ensure “smooth and unobtrusive” initial checks were made on punters who spent smaller sums.
The minister said it was “critical” that gambling operators were forced to share data about people displaying signs of addiction through a “single customer view” system. He also indicated the Gambling Commission would receive more funding to improve its regulatory capacity, including greater powers to “requisition” and analyze data in bulk from gambling companies to ensure they were not exploiting vulnerable people.
His comments were echoed by Andrew Rhodes, the Head of the Gambling Commission, who said gaming and betting companies were still failing in their duty to protect problem gamblers, despite their efforts to show improved behavior before the review. Gambling companies had come to view regulatory fines and settlements, which have reached £100 million since 2017 as a “compliance tax”.
As reported by The Guardian, GambleAware’s Chief Executive, Zoe Osmond, commented: “We welcome the minister’s announcement that the government is working with the Gambling Commission to take steps to protect people at risk of gambling harms through affordability checks, a single customer view, and a data repository to inform intervention and uphold industry standards”.
She also called on the government to impose a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund addiction research, education and treatment. Philp’s predecessors have so far resisted recommendations to replace the existing voluntary system.