On 1 August 2018, the Gambling Commission published a response to its early 2018 consultation into advertising regulations, unfair terms and disputes. The Commission’s response sets out the its proposals to strengthen the requirement on operators to deliver fair and open gambling and proposed changes to its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). The revisions to the LCCP will take effect from 31 October 2018.
In its consultation response, the Commission states that gambling operators must ensure that promotional marketing conditions and terms are transparent, open and clearly understandable by consumers.
In addition, the Commission has said that from October 2018 onwards, consumers must not receive any form of ‘spam’ or unsolicited email or SMS messages to which they have not consented. In instances where this rule is breached, ‘action will be taken against gambling firms’, the Commission has warned.
The Commission has also reminded operators that they will be held responsible for the marketing activities of any third party affiliates – meaning that they could face action for any advertising breaches committed by those affiliates.
The new changes will also see complaints handling procedures significantly tightened, in such a way that will require operators to ‘acknowledge’ a complaint within 24 hours of receiving it. Operators will then have an eight-week time limit to deal with complaint, assuming that the consumer co-operates.
The Commission says that the new changes will make it easier for it to “take action” and “impose fines” against gambling operators that break advertising rules or breach consumer law, specifically with regard to “misleading practices or unreasonable restrictions on withdrawals.”
Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “Protecting the interests of consumers is a priority for us and needs to be a priority for gambling operators.
“These changes will protect consumers from irresponsible advertising and misleading promotions, ensure that they can withdraw their money more easily, and will mean that firms have to deal with complaints more swiftly.”
Richard Williams, Joint Head of the Gambling and Licensing Team at Joelson, said: “We’ve already seen the Commission taking action where it believes that gambling operators are misleading consumers. These proposed changes to the LCCP will strengthen the Commission’s hand, so that where some licence conditions have previously been vague, the wording will be tightened.
“In relation to advertising, the requirement to comply with CAP/BCAP Codes will be elevated from ordinary code to a social responsibility (SR) code provision. Ordinary code provisions set out “good practice” whilst SR code provisions are licence conditions which must be strictly complied with by operators.”
If you require advice on any of the issues raised above, please contact the team at London licensing, gaming and regulatory solicitors Joelson.
Partner – Joint-Head of Licensing, Gaming & Regulatory
+44 (0) 20 7307 2105
This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.
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