The Gambling Commission has today launched a consultation “Proposed changes to licence conditions and codes of practice linked to the fair and open licensing objective“ (that can be downloaded below) on proposed changes to its Licence conditions and codes of practice (“LCCP”). The closing date for responses is 5pm on 22 April 2018.
The proposed changes (summarised below):
- relate to regulations on marketing and advertising, unfair terms, and complaints and disputes and are aimed at ensuring that gambling operators are being fair and open with consumers
- are said by the Commission to be “based on evidence of potential harm or unfair treatment to consumers, concerns about lack of compliance with consumer protection legislation, declining public trust in gambling, and concerns about the impact of gambling on children and young or vulnerable people” and
- are intended to support the Commission’s three-year strategy, about which you can read more here and, according to the Commission “are just one part of a much wider work programme which will require regulators, industry and partners to work together to deliver changes”.
Echoing views expressed at last November’s second annual Gambling Commission Raising Standards conference, Sarah Gardner, Commission Executive Director, is quoted as saying: “We are proposing these changes because of the risk of consumer harm, concern about lack of compliance with consumer protection legislation, declining public trust in gambling and concerns about advertising. We’re very keen to hear the views of all those with an interest in the gambling industry.”
The following sets out (a) the Commission’s summary of the changes proposed in the consultation document, (b) the specific questions posed and (c) how to respond to the Commission:
Marketing and advertising
“We work with partners like the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP) to make sure that marketing communications for gambling are fair, don’t mislead, and aren’t targeted at vulnerable people. We are proposing changes to our licence conditions to:
- ensure that licensees adhere to the UK Advertising Codes
- make our current requirements about misleading advertising clearer to licensees
- introduce a new requirement to prevent consumers from receiving ‘spam’ marketing by email or SMS
- make clear to licensees that they are responsible for the actions of any third party organisations that they use, if the third party does not stick to any of these requirements.”
“We have been working with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look at whether the terms, conditions and practices that licensees use are fair and transparent, especially around bonus offers. This work flows from UK consumer protection legislation, which licensees must obey.
We are proposing changes to our licence conditions to make clear to licensees that they must obey relevant consumer protection legislation at all stages of dealing with consumers, and not only when designing marketing materials.
We are also proposing some changes to make it easier for us to take action if we think a licensee is not following the relevant rules.”
Complaints and disputes
“We want licensees to handle complaints in a fair, open, timely, transparent and effective manner. We are proposing changes to LCCP to make this outcome clearer to licensees. This includes introducing an eight week time limit for licensees to deal with gambling-related complaints and disputes.
Alongside this change to LCCP, we propose to introduce advice to licensees on handling complaints, and we will expect licensees to take this advice into account when they handle complaints. The advice covers areas such as:
- Defining complaints and disputes, and clarifying where possible the disputes an ADR provider can consider
- Complaints procedure requirements
- Receiving complaints from different sources
- Time limits for complaints handling and escalation
- Requirements for escalating disputes to ADR providers
- Standards for providing information to customers
- Information required by the Commission.
In this consultation, we also outline the work we are taking forward with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers, to develop an additional framework of service standards for ADR provision, in additional to the requirements of the ADR Regulations. We are currently developing the additional framework of standards with input from ADR providers and consumers, and seek views on this work and its implementation process in this consultation.”
“We have looked at a large amount of material from licensees in the course of our work. Not all of the information that licensees prepare for consumers is easy to understand. We are seeking views on whether we should introduce a standard of readability that all licensees must meet when preparing consumer-facing material to make sure that such materials are clear and transparent. We are interested also in views on what such a standard might look like.”
Questions posed in the consultation document
What are your views on elevating compliance with the UK Advertising Codes from an Ordinary code provision to a Social responsibility code provision?
- Are there any particular aspects of the UK Advertising Codes which would benefit from additional advice or guidance?
- What are your views on the re-drafting of SR code provision 5.1.7?
- What are your views on the proposal to introduce a new SR code provision regarding direct emarketing consent?
- What are your views on broadening the proposed provision beyond direct e-marketing to include all forms of direct marketing?
- What are your views on the proposed amendments to SR code provisions 1.1.2 and 1.1.3 (Responsibility for third parties) which reduce duplication between provisions and further clarify our position that operators are responsible for third parties with whom they contract, such as affiliates?
- Do you have any comments on the inclusion of consumer notices to licence condition 7.1.1?
- What are your views on the proposal to include requirement to ensure compliance with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, at all stages of the consumer journey?
- What more could be done to ensure licensees’ terms and practices are not unfair and do not mislead? Please give examples.
- Do the changes to SR code provision 6.1.1 make it clear that our focus is on complaints and disputes being handled in a fair, open, transparent, accessible and timely manner, in line with the licensing objectives? If not, how could we improve this?
- Do the changes to SR code provision 6.1.1 make the general requirements for reporting information to the Commission easier to understand and follow? If not, what would improve this?
- Please provide any feedback on the new requirement to have regard to the Commission’s advice/guidance when designing complaints policies and procedures. Can you see any problems with this approach?
- Please provide any feedback on the proposals to introduce time limits for complaints and disputes handling, and a requirement to provide a ‘deadlock letter’ as part of the advice. Do you agree with the proposed approach? If not, please explain why?
- Do you have any further comments or feedback on the proposed changes to SR code 6.1.1? What would be the impact of such proposals in terms of resource or cost?
- Do you have any further comments or feedback on the content of the proposed advice? What would be the impact of the proposals in terms of resource or cost?
- Do you have any views on the outlined content of the future framework of standards for ADR providers, or our direction of travel in this area?
- What are your views on introducing a required readability standard for customer facing documents in the future? What might such a standard look like? What would the impact of such a requirement be for licensees or for customers?
How to respond to the consultation
The deadline for responses to this consultation is 5pm on Sunday 22 April 2018.
A response template can be downloaded below; it is also available on the Commission’s website via the link accessible here. The Commission says that it would prefer respondents to complete that template and to send it by email to: [email protected]
Alternatively, responses can be sent by post to: “Proposals linked to ‘Fair and Open’ consultation”, Gambling Commission, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4BP