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BGC announces mandatory checks for monthly deposits over £5k

23

Operators that partake in the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) new voluntary code must carry out a risk assessment on customers wanting to make a net deposit of over £5,000 per month.

The BGC published the Code on Customer Checks today (1 May). The code will sit alongside the GB Gambling Commission’s frictionless affordability checks.

The official pilot scheme for frictionless checks was announced today by the Commission. This was alongside a timeline of implementation for the other proposals included in the first round of Gambling Act review white paper consultations.

The code was developed in conjunction with the Commission and is backed by the UK government. It will be implemented as a voluntary interim scheme until the Commission’s frictionless checks can pass the initial testing stage.

The frictionless financial risk assessments came about following feedback from the Commission’s first consultation round last year. At the time, affordability checks effectively dominated the conversation. The Commission stressed that these checks will not take place in a live environment or affect player credit ratings.

According to the BGC’s new code, operators must undertake a risk assessment if a player wants to make a net deposit over £5k. This is both for a rolling month or equivalent. This is to judge whether markers of harm are present, or to gain more information on their financial situation.

For players aged between 18 and 24, a monthly net deposit of £2,500 will trigger the risk assessment.

What does the risk assessment entail?

The risk assessment will have to include one or more approaches outlined in the code. These are:

  • A safer gambling-based interaction with a customer. This will include a declaration of the customer’s income via a two-way live chat or phone call;
  • An analysis of the player’s affordability. This includes projecting their income by asking for information such as their job title and annual salary;
  • A review of open-source information. This could include Companies House filings and previous winnings;
  • A review of information supplied by the customer;
  • Financial insights from a third party whose business must adhere to statutory regulation.

Similar approaches are also acceptable. If an operator identifies high-risk activity, it would need to escalate the risk assessment into the enhanced consideration category.

Customers with a net deposit of £25,000 in any rolling 12-month period will be subject to enhanced consideration checks. For this process, operators can use customer winnings and net position in their assessment.

The BGC and the Commission are also working on a new anti-money laundering code to address what it dubs “intrusive document checks”.

“While this code delivers progress on resolving the issue of intrusive document checks, it does not offer a complete solution,” reads the press release. “So, the BGC and GC are now actively working on a new Code on Anti-Money Laundering checks, which also trigger requests for documents.”

Code could bring progress in the meantime

Michael Dugher, CEO and acting chair of the BGC, said the code represents progress in removing document checks for those who are subject to them.

“This code is good progress towards solving an issue that has generated such heated public debate,” he said. “It will significantly increase the consistency of safer gambling standards while removing intrusive document checks for many who are currently subject to detailed checks.”

He added that the code enhances existing safer gambling regulation.

“It is vital to note that this new code sits on top of a host of other safer gambling measures our members already conduct. These only exist in the regulated sector,” he continued. “While this is good progress in the right direction, we are acutely aware more needs to be done.”

Andrew Rhodes, chief executive of the Commission, said that the code would allow for progress while the frictionless financial risk pilot takes place.

“This voluntary code will help ensure a consistent and transparent approach for consumers across participating operators where customer spend is the trigger for action,” he explained. “We think this code will help address the varying approaches from operators to customer spend triggers today, while we conduct a pilot on the use of the frictionless financial risk assessments that the government proposed in their white paper.”

First consultation round proposals timeline

The second prong, as such, of the next steps on financial checks released today is the “light-touch” checks. The light-touch checks will take place in two stages. The first providing checks on customers with a net deposit of over £500 per month. The second will carry out checks on customers with a net deposit of £150 per month.

The stages will take place from 30 August 2024 and February 2025 respectively.

The Commission also outlined a wave of new rules for online games design, direct marketing and age verification. Online games will be subject to a host of new restrictions, with a ban on autoplay, spin speeds under five seconds and features that give the illusion of control.

Operators will also have to display a player’s net spend and the amount of time they have spent playing. These changes will come in on 17 January 2025.

Gambling businesses will also have to give players a choice to opt-in to the product types they wish to receive information on from 17 January 2025.

The good practice code will also be modified, with the new version coming into play from 30 August 2024. Staff at land-based venues will have to check a customer’s age if they appear under the age of 25, instead of 21. Land-based venues will also have to implement age verification test procedures.

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