March 2, 2023
On 28 February 2023, the Commission launched a consultation on three changes it proposes to make to the licence conditions and codes of practice (the “LCCP”) to which the industry may submit its views (here) by 23 May 2023.
The proposed changes are to:
- extend the scope of those licensees that must observe Social Responsibility Code Provision (“SRCP”) 3.5.5. SRCP 3.5.5 currently requires most licensees to participate in the national multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, GAMSTOP. Under the Commission’s proposals, it seeks to extend this requirement to all licensees that make and accept bets by telephone and email;
- add a reportable event to licence condition (“LC”) 15.2.2. LC 15.2.2 requires all licensees to notify the Commission as soon as reasonably practicable of the occurrence of certain events. The Commission proposes to include a requirement that all licensees report to the Commission when they become aware of a person who has gambled with them and has died by suicide; and
- amend LC 5.1.2, which relates to payment methods certain licensees must only accept from its customers. The Commission’s proposal is to amend the text of LC 5.1.2 so as to account for any legislative amendments to the Payment Services Regulations that may come into force in the future.
As noted above, the Commission proposes to make it a requirement that licensees report to them upon becoming aware of a person who has gambled with them and has died by suicide. This suggests that the Commission may, if such a circumstance were to arise, investigate whether the licensee should have been aware of such a risk manifesting by evaluating the licensee’s interaction with the customer in order to determine whether the customer demonstrated any behaviours at the time they were registered with the licensee that would indicate they were at risk of suicide.
If this is the intention that sits behind the proposal (which we speculate to be the case), licensees’ customer interaction obligations effectively move a step further in that licensees will need to undertake a mental health risk assessment of its customers, notwithstanding the fact they are already required to identify harmful gambling as part of their safer gambling processes. Understanding what makes an individual susceptible to suicide relies on knowledge of a multitude of factors. Simply put, a licensee can only ever base its interactions with a customer on the facts that are presented to it.
The industry already has its concerns on the Commission’s expectations of how it undertakes an assessment (and acts on the outcome of such), of a customer’s vulnerability or potential to suffer from harm. The customer interaction guidance sets out the Commission’s requirements of its licensees in this regard but, as licensees have expressed, lacks the necessary detail to properly guide licensees on how to achieve such standards. This particular proposal reaffirms the Commission’s plight to ensure its licensees assess and take steps to act in order to protect a customer’s vulnerability and, will too, require detailed guidance for the industry to understand how it can meet the specified standards.
We would encourage the industry to submit its comments and views to the Commission, especially in respect of this particular proposal and in light of the pending implementation of Requirement 3 of SRCP 3.4.3 (consideration of the factors that might make a customer more vulnerable to gambling harms and implementation of systems/processes to take action where such vulnerability is identified).
The consultation comes at a time where the industry is eagerly awaiting the long-anticipated Government review of the Gambling Act 2005 and, as the Commission itself indicates, will “highly unlikely” affect the proposals in the consultation. It is not without surprise that two of the three proposals relate to safer gambling controls and any licensee that has been subject to an audit by the Commission will be well versed in its expectations regarding player protection.