Neil McArthur, the UK Gambling Commission’s chief executive, highlighted the need to raise standards among overseas gambling businesses targeting British consumers.
Speaking at the Malta ARQ Gaming Compliance Forum, McArthur outlined three key strategic areas of focus to push the latter’s requirements, stressing that “the MGA shares our concerns.”
This follows a study carried out last year focusing on compliance standards of 123 online casino operators, which saw that 45 were told to submit an action plan to raise standards, 14 became the subject of further investigation, seven paid a total of £ 18 million in penalty packages, five operators surrendered their licences and three PMLs were also abandoned.
McArthur commented that ‘ compliance with both the letter and the spirit of regulation is not optional, ‘ emphasising that 24 of the 45 operators who were required to submit action plans, five of the seven penalties paid and three licenced are all based on the Mediterranean island.
This comes as Malta-based operators now account for more than 30% of UK digital GGY, or about one-eighth of the regulated market as a whole, up from about 10% in 2014.
The first region underlined the need for mobile and digital game designers to work together to create an “effective Industry Code for Game Design,” which would then be taken to LCCP and technical standards “to ensure a level playing field for all.”
A prospective code, it was said, would cover:
- The techniques that the industry plans to use when designing apps and online games.
- The risk associated with each product and how they can be mitigated.
- A clear explanation of what is not acceptable.
- Inducements to gamble was another focus area, with conversations having already taken place about the question of the treatment of VIPs and associated incitements.
With regard to moves in this region, McArthur said that there was one important development: “As a result, we recently received an offer from one major operator to lead the development of a code of conduct in this area. We want to take up that offer and hope to see firm commitments in this area soon, including a pacey timetable for that work.”
Use marketing technologies is McArthur’s final core area, which spoke of a surge as demonstrated in an interim report focused on GambleAware research into gambling advertising and its effects on children, youth and vulnerable adults.
“Whilst I am not suggesting that children, young people or vulnerable adults are being actively targeted – the research found very little evidence of ad tech being used to proactively target ads away from them either. I want you to explore how you can make better use of technology to minimise the risk of exposure of gambling advertising content to children, young people and vulnerable adults.
“We want you to come together and start work on a plan which sets out new standards for how industry will embrace ad-tech for social responsibility purposes – actively targeting away from vulnerable audiences.”
McArthur concluded by saying that the Commission wants to see tangible progress on the issues raised: “I hope all of you will engage with the opportunities to collaborate that I have just outlined.
“Game and product design, incentives to gamble and advertising technology are all areas where the people and operators I see before me can make an impact. For those of you who want to get involved, we stand ready to work with you and others to make progress.
“And that brings me to the question I started today with. Where have we come from and where are we now? The commission is clear that although progress has been made in the regulation of the online market since 2014, far more needs to be done to raise standards.”