UK gambling minister suggests affordability cap on the way

Chris Philp spoke at the ninth annual GambleAware conference.
Chris Philp spoke at the ninth annual GambleAware conference.

DCMS minister Chris Philp has said that the government’s review of gambling legislation will propose a soft affordability cap and the introduction of a single customer view for gaming.

UK.- Britain’s gambling minister, Chris Philp, who was appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in September, has made his first public statements as to what can be expected following the government’s ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Speaking at the ninth annual GambleAware conference, Philp said he aimed to introduce measures to protect customers from incurring unaffordable losses.

He said a white paper outlining the government’s proposed reforms will be published “in the coming months”.

He said: “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. 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.”

He mentioned the possibility of a “soft cap” on deposits, which would require players to pass affordability checks before spending more than a fixed amount. He suggested, however, that any threshold would have to be higher than the £100 proposed by the Gambling Commission in a consultation last year.

He said: “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.

“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.”

A single customer view for gaming operators

Philp, whose official title is minister for tech and digital economy, has previously spoken in favour of the creation of a single customer view to allow data-sharing across the industry, and he stated that this would be a key part of the government’s plans to make gambling safer.

The mechanism would allow operators to see a more complete picture of a player’s account history by seeing data from other providers to check affordability.

Philp again stressed that the Information Commissioner’s Office has deemed it possible to implement such a move without violating data protection rules and that this was a major step forward.

He 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.”

Gambling Commission data capabilities

Philip added that he was working closely with Gambling Commission chair Marcus Boyle and acting CEO Andrew Rhodes to ensure the regulator has the tools it needs. He said the government was exploring how to build the Gambling Commission’s data capabilities to allow more effective regulation.

He 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.”

He added: “I want the Commission to excel in holding the industry to account.”

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