Two items of advice for UK licensed betting operators

The Gambling Commission has published on its website the following two items of advice that will be of interest to licensed betting operators:

  1. Are you settling bets in accordance with your published rules?
  2. A reminder of the risks surrounding novelty markets

They read as follows:

Are you settling bets in accordance with your published rules?

Over the past few months we have become aware of instances where bookmakers have failed to settle bets in line with their published rules as required by social responsibility code provision 4.2.6. Examples have included using a new settlement mechanic for foreign racing, applying Rule 4 using an alternative methodology and the inaccurate settlement of bets due to rounding.

We expect gambling to be fair and open, so it’s important that customers can trust their bets will be settled in accordance with an operator’s published rules.

Graham Burgin, Betting Specialist, has provided some top tips to help operators comply with our expectations:

  • Regularly review your published rules to ensure they are accurate
  • Ensure your rules are updated to reflect any learning highlighted through your own complaints processes and ADR resolutions
  • You must plan ahead. Updated rules must be published on the date amendments take effect
  • In addition to published rules, you should use additional methods to notify customers of change. In betting shops, this could be through information provision on premises screens, over the audio network, through staff and on betting slips and receipts. For online operators, this could be through information provision on relevant market screens, through pop-ups and on betting receipts
  • Before launching new betting markets, ensure that current rules are applicable and/or new rules are introduced where required
  • Make sure that consistent information is provided.  For example, your published rules should not conflict with information displayed on a market screen or available through ‘Help’ or ‘FAQ’ pages
  • Ensure software updates are managed effectively and tested to ensure accurate settlement is maintained
  • Where settlement issues do occur, you must divest monies accrued contrary to published rules. This should be to the affected customers. However, where these can’t be readily identified, operators should contact the Commission to agree divestment as a totalised donation to an appropriate body involved in the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

A note on divestment 

  • Divestment relates to monies accrued where customers have been disadvantaged by settlement contrary to published rules. The divestment figure must not be offset by any monies that may have been overpaid to customers by way of the same failure to settle bets in line with published rules.

Reminder of the risks surrounding novelty markets

We are advising operators to reassess their approach to offering bets on reality tv shows dependent on public voting.

We know that markets on shows such as the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are remaining open until the result of voting is officially announced.

However, because there can be a time lag between the conclusion of the voting and the official announcement, there is a risk people linked to the programme could use or share this information to place bets.

To mitigate this risk we are advising operators to consider ceasing to accept bets in parallel to the public voting concluding.