The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced “strict new guidance” that online casino operators must follow as the regulator takes additional steps to ensure that high value players are properly protected and not encouraged to gamble beyond their means.
The new rules come after a two-month consultation period with a number of different industry stakeholders, including a working group led by the Betting and Gaming Council and GVC, which operates UK online casinos Foxy Games and PartyCasino.
The updated guidance stops short of banning operators from running VIP schemes, but they will be forced to undertake additional checks on high value customers before they can be awarded VIP status. Under the new rules, casinos will have to:
- Establish that spending is affordable and sustainable as part of the customer’s leisure spend
- Assess whether there is evidence of gambling related harm, or heightened risk linked to vulnerability
- Ensure the licensee has up to date evidence relating to identity, occupation and source of funds
- Continue to verify the information provided to them and conduct ongoing gambling harm checks on each individual to spot any signs of harm
- Appoint a senior executive who holds a personal management licence to oversee the VIP scheme, making an individual accountable for the first time
We have introduced these new rules to stamp out malpractice in the management of ‘VIP’ customers and to make gambling safer.
Our enforcement work has identified too many cases of misconduct in the management of VIP schemes and this is the last chance for operators to show they can operate such schemes appropriately.
Loyalty and VIP schemes have been under increasing scrutiny for many months now, with the government, the regulator and other industry bodies concerned they encourage players to spend more than they can afford.
Concerns have also been raised over whether VIP schemes are partly responsible for players developing problem gambling habits and addictions. While the new rules will ensure players are better protected, the UKGC has warned a ban could still be put in place.
“Operators can be in no doubt about our expectations. If significant improvements are not made, we will have no choice but to take further action and ban such schemes,” McArthur said.
So, what does this mean for players? At this stage, not much. If you do reach VIP status you will likely be asked to provide additional information to help the casino verify your identity, age, occupation and where your gambling funds come from.
It is worth nothing that Find My Casino does not put much weight behind loyalty and VIP schemes when rating the casinos we recommend to you. In most cases, they are incredibly hard to progress through and do not add much value to your play.
Instead, we encourage our players to consider other things like the games offered, the payment methods available, whether customer support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and whether the casino is reputable and trustworthy.
Regardless of whether you play at an online casino with a loyalty scheme or not, you must always gamble responsibly and use the tools available at UK online casinos to stay in control of your play.