As we did in relation to last year’s Gambling Commission Enforcement Report, we are setting out below all of the ‘good practice healthcheck’ questions arising from this year’s Enforcement Report (published today).
With a view to saving themselves a lot of time, trouble and (potentially) money by conducting their own regulatory self-checks, we strongly recommend that all operators licensed by the UK Gambling Commission should be asking themselves the following questions with a view to avoiding the investigations, enforcement action and increasingly heavy financial penalties of the type detailed on the Commission’s “Lessons learnt – compliance failings” webpage.
Safer gambling healthcheck
The Commission says: “you should be asking yourself the following key questions with regards to customer interaction and identifying problem gamblers”:
- Do you have policies and procedures in place to identify customers who may be experiencing or at risk of developing problems with their gambling? Have you allocated sufficient resources to be able to interact with customers early and effectively when you have concerns?
- Are you curious about your customers? Do you monitor customer activity?
- Do you record interactions and use this information to aid your decision making about customers?
- Do you track customers across your different platforms and do enough to spot multiple customer accounts?
- Do you have systems in place to identify potential problem gamblers? Do these include appropriate and realistic trigger points for when the usual pattern of gambling becomes unusual (these should not just be financial)? How do you protect new or unknown customers (where a pattern of play cannot yet be established)?
- Will your processes keep pace with increased demand? Will your growth or any merger affect your ability to monitor customers?
- How are you evaluating these measures and procedures to ensure they are effective and how do you plan to make improvements over time?
- Are your staff sufficiently trained to spot gamblers who might be experiencing harm and know how to report concerns? Are there clear procedures once a concern has been raised? Are there processes in place for weekends and late nights?
- Where concerns arise, are you able to intervene early and engage with a customer?
- Do your customer interaction policies and procedures also cover VIP customers?
- Are you alert to the particular risk these customers bring? Are commercial considerations overriding customer protections?
- Have you considered how you will meet the revised LCCP requirements for customer interaction? Have you reviewed your own processes against the guidance, and considered changes you need to make to meet the requirements from October 2019?
The Commission says: “you should consider the following to ensure you are complying with the terms of your licence”:
- Have you allocated sufficient resources to AML compliance?
- Have you ensured you have clear, up-to-date, and fit for purpose AML policies, procedures and controls available to all who require guidance?
- Have you ensured your policies, procedures and controls have been informed by our guidance on AML? Are you assuming if you comply with the AML requirements of another regulator you are compliant with the Commission’s requirements?
- Is your money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment appropriate to your business? Have you taken into account the Commission’s Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, and the high-risk factors detailed in our guidance?
- Are your policies, procedures and controls informed by the risks identified in your money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment? Are they revised when the risks change?
- Are your customer risk profiles informed by your money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment? Are you placing an over-reliance on monetary thresholds as risk triggers and ignoring other risk factors?
- Is the level of customer due diligence you conduct on particular customers informed by their risk profile? Do you scrutinise transactions to ensure they are consistent with the customer’s risk profile?
- Have you ensured staff have, and continue to receive, adequate training on AML matters, including how to recognise and deal with transactions and other activities which may relate to money laundering or terrorist financing?
- Are you supporting your nominated officers with the appropriate resources and training and do they have the authority to operate objectively and independently?
- Are your systems and controls appropriate for your business?
- Do you regularly assess the adequacy of your systems and controls and their effectiveness in mitigating the identified money laundering and terrorist financing risks?
- Do you know your customer (KYC)? Are you gaining a holistic picture of the customer’s source of funds, particularly in relation to VIP customers? Are you critically assessing assurances you receive as to their source of funds?
- Are you requiring customers to provide their occupation upon registration and then profiling their income for affordability?
- Are you making records of customer interactions and transactions where necessary?
- Is your approach governed by risk? Once an alert has been raised, do you have in place procedures to ensure the case is properly reviewed in a timely manner? Will decisions be appropriately recorded?
- Are you confident commercial considerations do not outweigh your adherence to the terms of your licence?
- Is risk being ‘owned’ at an appropriately senior level within your organisation?
Marketing and Advertising healthcheck
The Commission encourages you to consider the following:
- Do your marketing and advertising materials comply with the CAP and BCAP codes, and Licence conditions and codes or practice? If in doubt, have you made use of CAP’s copy advice team? Do you keep up to date with CAP and BCAP guidance, published on the ASA website, on the standards that you have to meet to ensure they comply with the rules?
- Are your advertisements clear and fair? Do your marketing communications include significant limitations and qualifications consumers should be aware of?
- Are you confident you have control over your marketing materials once you have engaged marketing affiliates? Have you ensured your contractual terms with affiliates are robust? Are you conducting regular audits of your affiliates’ activity against your compliance policy?
- Are you allocating sufficient resources to ensuring your marketing and advertising is compliant?
- Is responsibility for marketing and advertising being owned at an appropriate level within your organisation?
The Commission says: “Drawing on good practice we have identified during assessments and areas requiring improvement, we have composed a Compliance Health Check for operators to use”:
(a) Your staff:
- Do your key personnel have sufficient knowledge, understanding and oversight of the regulatory framework and compliance requirements?
- Are you targeting employee training to suit the environment in which employees work?
- Could you demonstrate to us that your staff are making sufficiently frequent and rigorous checks to ensure your business is compliant?
- Have you considered linking performance and elements of pay to compliance?
- Do you have appropriate, up to date policies and procedures?
- Do your compliance resources mirror the size of your operation and its level of risk?
- For those operators required to submit an assurance statement, do you use the statement to create a culture of continuous improvement?
(b) Your customers:
- At the point a customer registers with you, do you require employment details? Do you link these details to average income for the job type to better understand customer affordability?
- Do you use targeted customer interactions and interventions? How do you know interventions are effective?
- How are you encouraging customers to use player protection tools and set deposit limits? Do your approaches work, and can you demonstrate this?
- Are you improving your systems to identify when customers have exceeded spend or duration of play thresholds?
- How are you identifying and analysing at-risk customers? For example, are you using predictive tools?
- Can you demonstrate through accurate records that you conduct appropriate interactions with VIP and at-risk customers?
(c) Third parties:
- How are you managing and auditing your relationship with 3rd party affiliates? Could you satisfy us that you are in control of these relationships?
Our long-term experience and specialist expertise enables us to assist in relation to any of the above questions (or, indeed, your answers to any of those questions) and in relation to any matter in respect of which you are currently under investigation by the Gambling Commission. So please do contact:
- David Clifton: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: 07703652525
- Suzanne Davies: email@example.com; tel: 07767666300
if you need help in any of these areas.