Gambling update: New licensing conditions seek to provide greater protection for consumers from 31 October 2018
In August 2018, the Gambling Commission published changes to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), which take effect from 31 October 2018.
The LCCP sets out the requirements that gambling firms must meet in order to hold an operating licence and personal licence. The changes are reflective of the Gambling Commission’s push to provide adequate protection for consumers, and seek to ensure that the licensing framework in this area is compliant with UK advertising codes, marketing requirements, and consumer rights law. This is a key area of concern for the Gambling Commission, given the number of value fines it has recently had to dish out to betting companies, such as 32 Red, William Hill, and LeoVegas, for breaching social responsibility obligations.
What are the key changes and what do they mean?
A detailed summary can be found on the Gambling Commission’s website, but some of the key changes are as follows:
- 1.Gambling firms will be obliged to undertake marketing of their gambling products and services in a socially responsible manner. They will need to comply with the advertising codes of practice issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, “to make sure that marketing communications for gambling are fair, do not mislead, and do not target vulnerable people”.
- 2.There will also be a new licensing requirement for direct electronic marketing consent. This means that gambling firms will not be able to contact consumers with direct electronic marketing without their informed and specific consent, and if a consumer is contacted, they must be given an opportunity to withdraw consent. This new rule reflects obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations, which came into force in May 2018.
- 3.Gambling firms will need to ensure that their consumer contract terms comply with fairness and transparency requirements under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It is hoped that this will make the terms of gambling contracts more easily accessible to consumers, who can then make informed decisions before entering into any such contracts.
- 4.Gambling firms will need to ensure that they do not mislead consumers in their marketing communications and advertisements. Any onerous conditions will need to be highlighted transparently and prominently to consumers at the point of sale for any promotion, and on any advertising for that marketing incentive, unless limitations of space make that impossible.
- 5.Gambling firms will be required to handle complaints in a “fair, open, timely, transparent and effective manner”. The new rules introduce an eight week time limit for firms to deal with gambling related complaints and disputes.
The new rules are intended to make it easier for the Gambling Commission to take action if it considers that consumers are being treated unfairly. The Gambling Commission has power to take action against gambling firms that fail to comply with the LCCP, such as imposing regulatory fines and, in some cases, revoking operating licences. In any event, the LCCP is not a static document, and will be continually reviewed by the Commission in line with its three-year strategy for fairer and safer gambling.
How can Ellis Jones help?
Ellis Jones has a specialist betting disputes team to assist anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly by gambling firms and/or lost money as a result. We have experience of dealing with and resolving matters in a number of different ways, to include submitting complaints to betting companies, and working with the Independent Betting Adjudication Service or e-Commerce and Online Gaming and Regulation Assurance agency. Please call William Fox Bregman, Paul Kanolik or Henrietta Dunkley on 01202 525333 to discuss your case and how we may be able to assist you in recovering your losses or visit ut Betting, Gambling & Gaming page here.