The Gambling Commission has focused heavily on safety this year, particularly during lockdown given fears it would lead to a rise in problem gambling. Enforcement also focused on failures to prevent gambling harm and lack of transparency. Read our latest articles on the games and gambling industries here.
UK government initiatives
Government response to DCMS Committee report on immersive and addictive technologies
In June, the government has published its response to the DCMS select committee report on immersive and addictive technologies. The government says it:
Call for evidence on loot boxes
In September, the government issued a call for evidence as part of its consultation on loot boxes. The call is targeted at two groups with separate questions for each of: games players and adults responsible for children and young people who play video games; and video games businesses and researchers and organisations interested in video games and loot boxes.
Review of Gambling Act 2005
In December, the government announced the long-expected review of the Gambling Act 2005 (GA), kicking off with a call for evidence. The review is intended to:
The review will focus in particular on:
The initial call for evidence will be open for a 16 week period.
Gambling Commission activity
Gambling Commission ban on gambling with credit cards
The Gambling Commission banned gambling businesses from allowing consumers in Great Britain to gamble using credit from 14 April 2020. Online gambling operators must also participate in the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP which allows consumers to self-exclude across operators with a single request.
Initiatives on gambling safety
In April, we discussed the safety initiatives announced by the Gambling Commission across three industry working groups, to improve gambling safety as well as COVID-related measures. In October, the Gambling Commission issued guidance for operators on running VIP schemes to ensure there is no irresponsible incentivisation of high value customers.
Gambling Commission partners with Facebook on guidance to limit gambling ads
The Gambling Commission and Facebook have created guidance to help users limit the number of gambling-related ads they see on the platform. The Gambling Commission worked on similar guidance for Twitter users.
Gambling Commission consultation on stronger measures to protect online customers
In November the Gambling Commission began consulting on stronger requirements on online operators to identify consumers who may be at risk of gambling harm and to then interact and take action to prevent those harms. It is particularly interested in views on procedures to assess whether a customer's gambling is affordable set against thresholds defined by the Commission including what the thresholds should be and how affordability assessments should be carried out. It also plans to introduce new social responsibility requirements into its licence conditions and to replace existing guidance on customer interaction.
Gambling Commission National Strategic Assessment and annual Compliance and Enforcement Report
Also in November, the Gambling Commission published its first National Strategic Assessment. The National Strategic Assessment uses evidence from a wide range of sources and case studies to assess the issues and risks gambling presents to consumers and the public. It sets out the Commission's priority actions to address them and highlights areas where progress has been made. The report will be used as a foundation for the Commission's work over the coming months and years which will include working with the government on its review of the Gambling Act.
Among the enforcement activity by the Gambling Commission this year:
More information on enforcement activity is detailed in the Commission's annual Compliance and Enforcement report.
CAP and ASA
In May, CAP issued an Advice Notice which sets out how to comply with advertising rules when marketing eSports related gambling on social media. It applies to gambling marketing on all social media platforms. The advice does not introduce new requirements but applies existing rules, in particular under Section 16 of the CAP Code, to marketing of gambling on eSports including by influencers and affiliates. It is a useful summary/checklist as a result.
CAP and BCAP consultation on strengthened rules to protect children, under-18s and vulnerable people from gambling-advertising related harms
CAP and BCAP began consulting on proposals to strengthen rules and update guidance on advertising gambling to better protect children, young people (under-18s) and vulnerable people in October. Proposals centre around prohibiting creative content of gambling and lotteries ads from appealing 'strongly' (rather than particularly) to under-18s rather than adults.
CAP and BCAP consult on guidance for advertising in-game purchases
CAP and BCAP opened a consultation on formal guidance on advertising in-game purchases including loot boxes. The guidance will address relevant existing rules in the context of in-game purchases, including by covering pricing information at the point of purchase, the language and approaches used to advertise in-game purchases (and the games they appear in), and the use of in-game purchased items in ads for games. The consultation closes on 28 January 2021.
Ad breached CAP Code
Coral was been found to have breached the CAP Code when captioning a link to a video ad with the words 'Have another go'. The ad was for a campaign allowing a free bet where a customer's horse failed to finish. It also featured a man looking dejected after the fall of the horse and then happy when he is able to 'have another go'. While the ASA agreed the promotion did not oblige consumers to have a further bet or use additional funds to do so, the caption and the video gave the impression that the decision to gamble had been taken lightly and the ad was therefore likely to encourage some customers to take up the offer repeatedly. For that reason, the ASA considered the ad was likely to encourage gambling behaviour that was potentially harmful and therefore breached the CAP Code.
Betway ad featuring an under-25 year old football player
A YouTube video on Betway's channel featuring West Ham footballer Declan Rice, was found to breach the CAP Code because the player is under 25. The video featured a prank on Rice in which an actor pretended to clamp Rice's car. Various protagonists were wearing West Ham shirts featuring Betway. Betway argued they did not consider the video to be an advert but said it was editorial content. The ASA disagreed and said the video breached the rule that under-25s cannot play a significant role in marketing communications on social media.
EGBA Code of Conduct
The European Gambling and Betting Association released a new Code of Conduct on data protection in online gambling. The Code introduces specific measures and best practices on a range of GDPR compliance issues. The Code is being submitted to the Maltese data protection supervisor for approval that it is GDPR compliant, a process which could take 18 months to two years. All EGBA members will have to adhere to the Code which is also open to other online gambling companies licensed in the EU/EEA. Compliance will be monitored by an independent third party. Read more.