Gambling Commission unveils plans to make online sector 'safer than ever'
The Gambling Commission has announced plans to make online gambling "safer than ever before". The announcement follows on from details revealed last week as part of the regulator's advice submitted to the government's review of gambling.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) said it would work constructively with the commission once its final proposals were known.
Proposed changes and action stemming from the commission's review of online gambling include protecting children by banning operators from providing free-to-play demo games until a customer's age has been determined, as well as improving the speed and effectiveness of age verification processes.
Operators will have to set limits on consumers' spending until affordability checks have been conducted, while the commission said it would tackle unacceptable marketing and strengthen requirements to interact with customers experiencing or at risk of harm.
Further work will also be carried out this year in five areas including product characteristics, protection of customer funds and dormant accounts, gambling on credit cards and making withdrawing funds easier.
The commission's chief executive Neil McArthur said: "Britain has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world and we are continually looking for ways to make it even fairer and safer for consumers.
"The proposals we have announced today are intended to protect children better, reduce the risks to vulnerable consumers and build on the measures we already impose on operators to know their customers and intervene at an earlier stage before consumers experience harm."
Minister for sport and civil society Tracey Crouch said the government was committed to ensuring the gambling industry is safe and sustainable.
The RGA said it had already committed to a number of actions including introducing a national online self-exclusion system, advertising restrictions and promoting the introduction of a new independent statutory social responsibility levy.
In response to the commission's announcement, the RGA said: "We share with the Gambling Commission the objectives that underpin their review, which is clearly the start of a longer process that will at some stage involve public consultation on firm proposals.
"There will always be areas where an industry can and should do better. The online gambling sector is no different and we will continue to work constructively with the commission to identify and implement any improvements that are evidence-based, proportionate and effective."
It added: "Although it is far too early to say exactly what reforms might flow from this review we believe that, taken together with the work that is already under way, the outcome will improve the experience and protections for the online gambling industry’s customers and that must be our shared goal."
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