GC working groups agree to ban under-25s from VIP schemes

1 April 2020

Gamblers aged 25 and under will be banned from joining operators’ VIP schemes in the UK while those permitted to join will be subject to new controls, as part of a series of voluntary reforms intended to reduce gambling-related harm in Great Britain.

The new restrictions on VIP schemes were announced alongside significant changes to advertising practices, as well as new guidelines for game design, including a minimum 2.5-second slot spin speed.

The Gambling Commission will now launch a consultation on adding the restrictions agreed upon by operators to the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP). However, it expects Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members to restrict and prevent under-25s from joining high-value customer schemes within three months. 

Furthermore, all customers eligble to join VIP schemes will be required to pass a series of checks relating to spend, safer gambling and enhanced due diligence, before they can take advantage of incentives. Reward programmes will also be required to have full audit trails, detailing operators’ decision-making processes and specifiying management oversight and accountability. 

VIP schemes have proved particularly controversial, after Gambling Commission data published in January this year revealed that while just 2% of customers at nine leading operators are VIPs, they account for 83% of deposits.

This agreement was reached through one of three industry working groups established by the Commission in January this year, involving over 30 operators and suppliers, and coordinated by the BGC. This saw the Commission run workshops with those that had experienced gambling related harm first-hand, supported by input from problem gambling charity GamCare and its service users. 

The VIP working group was led by GVC Holdings, while Sky Betting and Gaming oversaw a group looking at changes to advertising practices, while efforts to develop new standards for responsible game design were led by Scientific Games and Playtech.

Through these working groups, further changes to advertising practices and processes, and changes to game design, have also been agreed.

The advertising working group’s efforts have resulted in the industry committing to taking action to reduce the amount of online advertising seen by children, young people and vulnerable adults.

These actions include compiling a list of common “negative search terms” such as those around self-exclusion. The industry also agreed to gather “better and more consistent” data, in order to make sure that targeted ads do not target vulnerable groups.

Like VIP schemes, the industry agreed that social media and “pay-per-click” (PPC) advertising should also only be targeted at those aged 25 or over when possible. Gambling-related YouTube channels and content must also feature age restrictions going forward.

In addition, the industry also said that it would adopt and send to all affiliates a new code of conduct, which the Commission said will be amended and updated regularly.

The industry working group added that it would establish a permanent cross-industry Adtech Forum, which it said would “ensure an on-going focus on making further progress in this area, including conducting and evaluating trials of advertising technology”.

The Gambling Commission said it was satisfied with these commitments and would expect them to be enforced from July.

The game design working working group, meanwhile, agreed to set a minimum spin time of 2.5 seconds for all slot games. It has also committed to removing features which “may encourage intensive play”, including slam stops and turbo buttons, as well as split screen slots which the Commission said were “associated with potential loss of control”.

A more detailed plan of work is to be released in September 2020, alongside a final code of conduct.

However, the regulator said that it believed the group needed to do more work to remove harm in the area of game design.

“The Gambling Commission’s view is that while some progress has been made, this work must now go further and faster, in particular around using demographics and behaviours to indicate risk,” it said. “The Gambling Commission will now consult on the priority areas for immediate action as soon as possible.”

“By working together with operators and seeking the views of people with lived experience of gambling harm we have been able to make significant progress, although there is always more to do,” Gambling Commision chief executive Neil McArthur added. “We will now consult on the necessary changes to our rule book to ensure all operators have to meet the new standards.”

Brigid Simmonds, chair of industry body the Betting and Gaming Council, said she was pleased to see the industry come together to help tackle key problem areas.

“I am pleased with our members’ hard work and continued commitment to delivering substantial progress on the three safer gambling challenges set by the Gambling Commission on high value customers, advertising and game design,” Simmonds said. 

“These measures, along with our recently announced 10 pledge action plan for Covid-19 safer gambling and our 22 industry safer gambling commitments, will significantly transform and improve the environment for our customers and the wider public.

“We agree with the Gambling Commission that there is still more work to do and we will rise to the ongoing challenge.”

McArthur said it was important that the changes were implemented quickly.

“We have been encouraged by the progress on VIP incentives, safer advertising and safer products,” McArthur said. “We set these challenges in order to deliver real and rapid change for consumers in key areas of risk. However, it is important these commitments are implemented as soon as possible. It should not take months to implement safeguards many would expect to be in place already.”

McArthur added that the implementation of the new rules may be difficult for some operators while many are still affected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

“I recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak will impact on next steps and actions, in particular land-based operators,” McArthur said. “I welcome the fact that the operators involved and the BGC have remained committed to progressing this work during these difficult times. That is a positive sign of their commitment to make the industry safer.

“Ultimately actions speak louder than words and any operator that does not put consumer safety first will find itself a target for enforcement action.”

Source: https://www.igamingbusiness.com/

LuckyVegas newest casino brand to launch via SkillOnNet

New casino aims to bring the spirit and excitement of Las Vegas to players across Europe and beyond

January 2020 – Why go to Las Vegas when you can bring The Strip to you? That is the positioning of LuckyVegas, the latest online casino brand to launch via the powerful SkillOnNet platform. LuckyVegas has been built by players, for players, and aims to capture the Las Vegas spirit. It does this by using iconic images of the Vegas Strip and combining it with the best selection of casino games.

This includes more than 3,000 slots and casino table games.  From the likes of Red Tiger Gaming, Big Time Gaming, NetEnt, Play’n GO, Blueprint Gaming, Quickspin, Yggdrasil Gaming and more. LuckyVegas players will also receive generous offers and bonuses as well. As the chance to climb through the various VIP levels, unlocking additional perks along the way, Las Vegas style !

SkillOnNet will also provide top-rated customer support and a huge range of localised payment options tailored to the different markets where LuckyVegas will launch. This includes the jurisdictions where SkillOnNet holds online casino licences including the UK, Sweden, Denmark and .com countries that allow online casinos with an MGA permit.

A spokesperson at LuckyVegas, said: “Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world and we wanted to capture the fun, excitement and unique atmosphere of The Strip in our casino. “We have done this through the use of iconic images and by also offering a huge range of online casino games and Live Casino Dealers to our players thanks to SkillOnNet’s vast game portfolio. “We took the decision to partner with SkillOnNet because of their previous success with brands such as PlayOJO and believe they will play a key role in helping LuckyVegas become a top-rated casino.”

Jerry Land, SkillOnNet  VP B2B Solutions said: “LuckyVegas looks fantastic and really does capture the spirit of Las Vegas. Combining this with our powerful technology is undoubtedly a winning formula. “LuckyVegas has also been able to use our licences in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Malta to launch in several key markets around the world giving the brand huge exposure from day one.”

Denmark online gambling regulations

Deposit limits are coming to Denmark next month

Players in Denmark will have to set mandatory deposit limits from the beginning of 2020, it has been announced. These limits can either be monthly, weekly or daily and will apply to online casino.

Regulatory changes in Denmark: the key details

Spillemyndigheden, the country’s gambling operator, has put further changes forward too. These include gambling ad controls and providing information for problem gamblers. Licensed operators must also provide a link to ROFUS, the Danish self-exclusion database.

With regards to self-exclusion, players must be able to perform this action straight from operators’ websites. Companies will also have to provide relevant training to staff, along with creating their own internal set of rules.

To show that regulators have authorised a brand’s operations in Denmark, licensees must also display Spillemyndigheden’s logo on their website.

Reshaping online casino in other areas 

These latest changes come not long after iGaming tax changes were announced for Scandinavia’s southernmost country. From 2021, operators will have to pay 28% of their gross gaming revenue (GGR). The current rate is 20%.

These changes are the first to tax since online gambling in Denmark was legalised back in 2012.

Online operators will owe the government a lower percentage than land-based outlets. Brick-and-mortar casinos will have to pay 45% GGR, plus an extra 30% on revenue exceeding 4 million Danish Kroner.

Online gambling in Denmark 

According to the most recent statistics, online gambling revenue in Denmark grew 6.1% year-on-year in Q2 2019. Although sports betting remains the most profitable vertical, online casino wasn’t far off overtaking it.

Overall, DKK1.73bn (£210.2m / €232.0m / $256.1m) was generated. Mobile gaming accounted for 50.27% of revenue during this stage, which was the first time it has surpassed half.

Source: Affiliate Insider

UK flag

October 8, 2019

UK Government publishes checklist to help gambling industry ahead of Brexit

The UK Government has published an eight-point checklist which has been put in place to help those who are working in the gambling industry to prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on October 31 while talks are continuing to go on over a deal, but with the deadline being just over three weeks away, the Government has issues specific advice for people employed in the gambling sector in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Employers have been advised to check of their staff are in need of a visa or work permit and make any requirements for their profession to work in the country they’re going to, as they may not be able to work in or even enter another country without the correct permit or visa.

All staff who work in the gambling sector should be checking if they need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, as this may impact whether they are indeed allowed to continue to live or work in the UK.

Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, employers and staff may not be able to enter the EU, which includes the cross from Spain over into Gibraltar, if they are unable to show that they meet the correct immigration rules. The Government has also advised workers to check if they have the correct documents before travelling.

Meanwhile, there could also be changes to the way in which operators and other businesses in the industry access personal data from the EU and European Economic Area. The Government advised reviewing contracts to ensure that operators can do so legally.

According to the Government, most data protection rules that apply to small to medium-sized businesses and organisations would stay the same if the UK were to leave without a deal.

The Government has also said that it is committed to maintaining General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards as well as plants to incorporate this into UK law after Brexit.

Similar advice has applied to accounting and reporting, with gambling businesses being warned that they may breach requirements in EEA countries if they do not make any required changes.

In terms of accounting, the UK-based public companies with a UK listing will now need to prepare accounts using UK adopted IAS for all accounting periods beginning the day after the UK leaves the EU.

UK public companies with an EEA listing must comply with rules of the country where the subsidiary is based and produce accounts that comply with the UK Companies Act 2006.

Source: Affiliate Insider

July 2, 2019

Leading UK operators set out plans for safer gambling environment

GVC Holdings, bet365, Flutter Entertainment, William Hill and Sky Betting and Gaming have followed up plans to increase funding for problem gambling treatment and safer gambling by setting out a plan of action to create a safer gambling environment. 

The centrepiece of the plan is the commitment to raise the current voluntary contribution towards funding problem gambling from 0.1% to 1% of gross gambling yield by 2023, as announced in June. The operators said that this tenfold increase will reach a contribution of approximately £60m (€67.1m/$75.7m) per year by 2023, with plans to maintain this level going forward.

The initiative, developed in partnership with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), also see the operators contribute 0.1% of their GGY directly to GambleAware each year, to support its existing treatment commitments and to continue its independent research programme.

“This is an unprecedented level of commitment and collaboration by the leading companies in the British betting and gaming sector to address gambling-related harm and promote safer gambling,” Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson said.

“The whistle-to-whistle advertising ban was a good start, now we are funding a significant expansion in treatment and we continue to work on a number of areas of collaboration and best practice. Our aim is nothing less than a step change in how we tackle gambling-related harm.”

Funds will primarily be used to support treatment, with the five operators having already committed to spending £100m over the next four years. They will work with the DCMS, the Department for Health and Social Care and providers of existing services, with the aim of quadrupling the numbers of those accessing treatment from 2.5% to 10%.

The operators have also agreed to increase safer gambling messaging across their advertising, support dedicated campaigns and review the content of all marketing, advertising and sponsorship. This will include using technology to divert messages away from problem gamblers.

In addition, the operators will share more data to help protect problem gamblers from experiencing further harm. This builds on the launch of GAMSTOP, the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, and its land-based equivalent.

Each brand has committed to reporting publicly on the progress of commitments set out under the initiative. This will be published in their annual assurance statements to the Gambling Commission, including confirmation of the payment of the 1% voluntary contribution.

“This initiative should ensure that the necessary reforms to protect the young and vulnerable particularly with the growth of online gambling will be rooted in independent research – on everything from online gambling harms to associated suicide,” said Lord Chadlington, the Conservative peer who has been a leading advocate for safer gambling measures. “That evidence base should also be used for education and for treatment.

“We must be certain that through the consultation process, a means is secured for the funds to be administered and the programmes evaluated, independent of the contributing companies and the gambling industry as a whole,” he explained.

William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock added: “There is an unprecedented level of agreement among leading companies that now is the time for the industry to step up to the plate and ensure we play our full part in addressing the issues surrounding gambling related harm. 

“Our hope is that this begins a new era of cooperation within the industry and between the industry and experts, charities, government and the regulator to promote safer gambling and minimise the risks.”

Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware, has also welcomed the move, saying it is essential that there is sufficient funding to provide for treatment and support for both problem gamblers and for those who are ‘at risk’, particularly the young and vulnerable.

Etches said: “Customers should be able to gamble in a safe environment, where help and advice is readily available at the point of need. 

“It is vital that we work closely with the commission, government and other organisations to ensure that operators continue to focus on making gambling products safer, and that treatment and support is properly funded alongside other initiatives including the Safer Gambling campaign, Bet Regret.”

Source: https://www.igamingbusiness.com/

5 June 2019

Apple will only allow native iOS gambling apps in App Store

Apple has announced that it will only allow gambling apps native to iOS to be hosted in its App Store, giving operators until September 3 to ensure their products comply.

In an updated series of guidelines for App Store reviews, the tech giant stated that HTML5 games distributed within apps “may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce”.

This means that only native apps, those developed specifically for Apple’s operating system, will be accepted in the App Store. Operators running sports betting, poker, casino, bingo, lottery or horse racing betting that fail to comply now risk having their products removed.

The majority of gambling apps currently hosted in the App Store are HTML5 sites in a native wrapper, or so-called container apps, both of which are cheaper and faster to develop than a fully-fledged native product, according to digital marketing agency Degree 53. 

The Betfred-backed agency warned that developing native products could be an expensive and time-consuming process, especially with a deadline of September 3. This falls just days before the start of the National Football League season in the US, and weeks after the start of the European football season. 

“Three months to build a fully featured native sportsbook app from scratch for a major operator is a massive undertaking and potentially unrealistic,” it said.

“It will require sizable and skilled native development teams to ensure all functionalities are fully compliant. However, operators with less complex products may be able to meet the deadline if they start now.”

The updated guidelines apply to all existing apps currently available in the App Store, in addition to any new apps that are added between now and the deadline of September 3.

However, Degree 53 noted that while Apple was likely to reject new updates to non-compliant apps, these were likely to be allowed to remain in the App Store until the September deadline.

Customers will still have access to these products on their own mobile devices, but may not be able to download any new updates. New players will also be unable to download them from the App Store.  

Source: igamingbusiness.com

May 25, 2019:

Bolt Affiliates launch a new online casino brand; Giant casino

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May 23, 2019

Spanish government urged to ban gambling advertisements

Spain’s acting ‘Civic Ombudsman’, Francisco Fernández Marugán, has urged the Spanish government to roll out a blanket ban on the advertising of gambling products and services which would extend to the media, radio, television and internet.

The proposed ban, which would specifically exclude the state-run lottery operators, Lotteries and ONCE comes as a ‘soon to be formed’ Spanish coalition government is expected to be implementing new gambling regulations, which will add stricter controls on advertising and consumer standards.

If the ban is to be imposed, it could have a significant impact on the ways in which affiliates can promote their brands and services on social media platforms. The cull in TV advertising could mean that gambling brands and affiliates have to diversify their marketing strategies, from social media and WhatsApp groups, to perimeter boards and shirt sponsorships.

According to the Spanish media, the acting ombudsman, has submitted proposals to the government on Monday.

Recommendations have been made by Marugán, which have been addressed to the Ministries of Finance and Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare. The detail of the framework of an ‘open-ended action plan’ is included, which will be open for discussion – regarding the proliferation and intense publicity of gambling ads and bookmakers.

Similar plans have been previously announced by Spain’s Finance Minister, María Jesús Montero, to place a similar ban on gambling advertising, to the one in place for tobacco products.

This ban would mean that operators would be prohibited from displaying any form of broadcast pertaining to gambling products and services before a particular time – in addition to the prohibition of celebrity endorsements and gambling signage at sporting events.

Marugán has stated that any operator found to be in contravention of the proposed ban could result in the cancellation of an operator’s licence, however this can only be justified if a total ban is imposed. The current advertisement policy in Spain is not yet regulated, and so this proposal would significantly alter the ways in which operators can promote products.

The Ombudsman considers that the advertising of gambling and bets, “should not be considered protected in the freedom of business, as it is not in products such as tobacco or addictive substances.”

He argued that the possibility of a blanket ban could be justified by claiming that the right of a business to advertise was not enshrined in Spanish law. Marugán further stressed that gambling was “a public health issue that requires a regulatory framework with imperative legal norms.”

Source: Affiliate insider