The United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) has released its new strict guidelines specifically designed clean-up the current malpractice in the industry’s VIP customer schemes. These guidelines come as a part of the regulator’s campaign to strengthen consumer protection.
The UKGC has identified VIP schemes as an area for change, making it the regulator’s priority to address after having seen repeated instances of failure to protect high-value customers. The regulator has made it a point that if these recently released guidelines are followed, there should be no irresponsible incentivisation of VIP schemes in the future. The commission has challenged its licensees to clean up their act and is currently pushing unity among its licensees through an industry code of conduct.
After extensive consultation with its licensees, the regulator has imposed new guidelines that all operators offering VIP schemes must abide by. These VIP schemes are defined by the UKGC as tailored bonuses, gifts, hospitality and preferential service from an operator design to maintain or increase their custom towards a high-value customer. The new guidelines are to take effect from 31 October onwards.
The regulator has outlined the new operator guidelines and these are as follows:
Before any operator can make a customer into a VIP, the operator must first establish that spending is affordable and sustainable as part of the customer’s leisure spend.
Operators must then assess whether there is evidence of gambling-related harm or heightened risk linked to vulnerability.
Operators must also ensure that the customer has up to date evidence relating to identity, occupation and source of funds. Operators must also continue to verify the information provided to them and conduct ongoing gambling harm checks on each individual to spot any signs of harm.
The newly released guidance also requires operators to appoint a senior executive who holds a personal management licence secured from the UKGC. These executives will oversee and manage their respective VIP schemes. The regulator’s goal in such requirements is to have accountability in the operator’s VIP schemes.
Neil McArthur, the Gambling Commission’s chief executive, has commented on the recently released guidelines saying that the regulating body has introduced these new rules to stamp out the malpractice in the management of VIP customers and make gambling safer. He also explained the reason for these new rules, stating that the regulator’s enforcers have identified too many cases of malpractice and that this would be the last chance for operators to show that they can run such schemes appropriately. He further stated that the UKGC is adamant in making the UK’s gambling industry safer, making it a point that if no significant improvements are made, the regulator will have no choice but to take drastic actions and ban such schemes. He also added that these new rules a part of the regulator’s campaign for tougher enforcement and compliance activity which has seen strengthened protections around online age and ID verification, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards.