Some operators have expressed reservations about the Gambling Commission's ability to implement the provisions outlined in the impending Gambling Act Reform white paper.
The comments were made in response to a request for evidence from the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) select committee on gambling regulation.
Submissions were submitted by a number of the UK's biggest gaming companies, including Bet365, Flutter, 888, Entain, Novomatic, Merkur, and Kindred.
While the contributions varied widely in terms of substance and format, a number of key themes emerged, including dissatisfaction with the Gambling Commission's actions and scepticism about the viability of affordability checks.
Dissatisfaction at the Commission
Flutter Entertainment, the world's largest online gaming company by revenue, emphasised that the adoption of a clear implementation plan following the publishing of the White Paper would be critical to its success.
“The reason for this is that we have concerns about the general consultation process used by the Gambling Commission,” said Flutter.
The company stated that it spent a significant amount of time and effort responding to Commission consultations, emphasising that it not only provided the needed data, but also attempted to explain the challenges involved in implementation and present its interpretation of the requirements.
But, Flutter said that it is "unusual" for the company's suggestions to be mirrored in the final product.
“It is even rarer for the Gambling Commission to provide feedback on our response so that, for example, we can understand why our evidence was not seemingly taken into account in that final outcome,” added the business.
As a result, the company urged both the DCMS and the regulator to guarantee that future conversations are "iterative dialogues."
Flutter further claimed that the Commission "consistently understated the intricacy of the technologies operated by licensees."
The corporation went on to say that it was critical that the Gambling Commission not only allow enough time for thoughtful replies to its consultations, but also establish "fair timetables for implementation of any regulatory changes."
Bally's official response
Bally's Corporation echoed this request to guarantee that the regulator best implements the aforementioned measures, arguing that it was a priority for the Commission to "enforce the spirit of the future rule."
Bally's Company also pointed out that the Commission did not always implement the most effective regulation.
“Many of the approaches embraced by the Gambling Commission involve population-wide measures that do not consider emerging technologies that improve the confidence level of targeted regulation,” read Bally’s submission document.
Entain's supplied testimony expressed frustration with the Commission's behaviour, arguing that the regulator would be more effective if it "took a cooperative rather than confrontational approach," as well as better recognised the interests of non-problem gamblers in its policy initiatives.
As a result, it suggested a number of recommendations to strengthen the Commission's connection with industry and make it more competent in general.
Among the eleven proposals were the notions that the Commission should be required to hire from industry, that regulatory initiatives be independently tested against the risk of customer departure from the licenced market, and that the Commission begin to regulate in a "predictable and transparent manner," including published tariffs for offences of varying severity.
Concerns about cost
A number of operators also highlighted worries about the imposition of affordability restrictions on consumers, which remains one of the white paper's more contentious prospective measures.
Entain suggested that enacting these rules would have a "significant" impact on the development of the illicit market.
According to the company, if these checks were implemented, one in every three gamers would contemplate wagering on an unregistered casino operator.
Bet365, on the other hand, was less critical of the policy, pointing out that it had implemented voluntary action on deposit limits for new clients in advance of the review.
The Stoke-based operator, on the other hand, claimed that affordability checks must strike a balance between "the need to safeguard individuals at risk and the interests of the great majority of those who gamble without incurring harm."
It so complimented the content of former gaming minister Paul Scully's statement at the Betting and Gaming Council's (BGC) Annual General Meeting, in which he emphasised the importance of making this process seamless and based on "financial risk."
“We agree with the comments of the former minister that such checks must be tried and tested before they are implemented and stand ready to support this process,” said Bet365.
Flutter stated that "extremely cautious" consideration was required for affordability checks, which it cautioned may result in "hundreds of thousands of Flutter consumers facing untested and undeveloped background checks," and so was the part of the White Paper that caused the operator the most concern.
While it acknowledged that the checks were supposed to take place in the background, it also stated that there was "a lack of understanding" about how this would function and what data would be reviewed.
“We strongly believe that operators are the best people to manage the customer relationship and we encourage the Government to look to build on our existing data and risk-based approaches to customer protection,” said Flutter.
By fLEXI tEAM