Gambling Minister voices support for Single Customer View and affordability in Gambling Act Review

The UK’s gambling Minister Chris Philp said the government will look to implement a single customer view (SCV) and a soft cap on affordability in its review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

This comes as the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called for the government to focus on protecting children from gambling harms in the upcoming white paper.

Philp delivers speech at Gambleaware Conference

In a speech delivered at the ninth annual GambleAware conference, Philp outlined his plans as the government minister that is responsible for gambling. Philp was appointed to the role in September following a cabinet shuffle.

During his speech, titled “Collaboration in the Prevention of Gambling Harms” the minister highlighted the need for a collaborative approach that involves various industry stakeholders.

Philp said that since being appointed as the government’s gambling minister he has already met with several people affected by gambling-related harms and by heading up the Gambling Act review that was launched last year, he hoped to help protect customers.

“In my first months I have met a broad range of gambling stakeholders and people involved in preventing harm, including clinicians and people with personal experience,” he said. “I’ve heard too many stories about people losing obviously unaffordable sums of money, not prevented by operators who had data to stop it from happening. 

“Through our review, I want to make sure we are doing much more to protect that minority of gamblers who are suffering life-changing harms and to prevent others from falling into that position.”

The review of the 2005 Gambling Act opened with a consultation on several topics including stake and spending limits, rules around advertising and bonuses as well as protection for younger people.

The consultation closed on 31 March 2021 and Philp has now confirmed the government is set to publish a white paper outlining potential gambling reforms in the coming months.

Philp voices support for SCV

During the speech, Philp noted that a SCV would form a key part of the government’s work to help make gambling a safer activity.

A SCV would allow operators to see a larger and more complete picture of a customer’s account history instead of a limited overview of a customer’s history with a single operator.

The idea is that this would allow operators to view a customer’s gambling spend across all operators and determine if it is affordable or not.

Back in October, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) voiced its support for implementing a SCV.  Philp said that ICO assessment that the approach could be implemented without violating data protection rules was a major step forward.

Philp said: “It is of course vital that any data sharing is done safely, securely and proportionately. I am glad the Commission has worked closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office which has now confirmed that a single customer view can be delivered with these values at its core.

“We know data sharing is well established in financial services. I know there are representatives from industry in the audience today, so I want to be clear in my message; now is the time for you to pick up the gauntlet and work closely with both regulators to develop a system that works.”

Philp speaks on potential “soft cap” on deposits

In his speech, Philp also touched on the idea of a “soft cap” on deposits with players being required to pass affordability checks before spending more money.

The Gambling Commission, which oversees the UK’s gambling industry, proposed a mandatory affordability check threshold with a proposed figure of £100 per month in a 2019 consultation on interaction with online customers.

However, in May, the Commission published points of action on the issue but the cap on deposits was not mentioned here.

Philp explained that an affordability cap would be appropriate as long as the threshold is higher than £100 a month.

“To be workable and prevent harm, affordability checks need to be proportionate. As the Commission has said, demanding payslips or bank statements from every customer spending £100 or so is likely to be unwelcome, disruptive and disproportionate to the risks. But there is a level that is appropriate,” said Philp.

“The Commission will soon publish more on its requirements around interventions and we will continue to work closely with them on affordability in the run up to publishing our white paper.”

Improving the Commission’s data capabilities

Philp also said that the government is currently exploring ways to invest in the Gambling Commission’s data capabilities in order to regulate more effectively.

Philp said: “They need powers to regulate the enormous and innovative gambling industry, including the ability to requisition and analyse bulk account-level data from operators to identify whether they’re doing what they’re supposed to under their licence conditions.

“I am working closely with the new Chair and Chief Executive of the Commission as they set out their vision for the organisation, and through the Gambling Act Review it will be one of my priorities to ensure that they have all the tools that they need to uphold the licensing objectives.”

Philp said the Commission has made several positive changes like the ban on gambling with credit cards, however, he said that “on a more day to day basis, I want the Commission to excel in holding the industry to account.”