The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has created a new framework to protect children from gambling-related harm. The new checks on customers’ ages and identities will come into force next week. A new age verification policy was announced today, as the commission published the latest statistics on problem gambling.
The UKGC released the children’s framework as part of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, an initiative it launched last week. It depends on research on understanding how gambling affects children and young people in relationships, health and even finances. A separate website was set up, and a framework for adults was released in July 2018.
The framework has been set up with the joint efforts of numerous agencies including the UKGC, the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling, GambleAware and Ipsos MORI, a research body. A follow-up effort will measure gambling harm. The program director for safer gambling at the UKGC, Helen Rhodes said that it is important to understand the impact of gambling on minors in detail. She noted that doing this a key priority for the commission. Rhodes also noted that harm experienced during childhood and adolescence could be detrimental to the confidence, potential and future development of the young people.
The new policy will help in concentrating the prevention and education initiatives of the national strategy. GambleAware’s director of research Clare Wyllie urged other researchers to help build further evidence.
Meanwhile, the new ID and age checks will be implemented from May 7. The rules will be applicable on lotteries as well as online platforms. Gambling operators will now have to verify a customer’s age, identity and addresses before allowing them to gamble. If an operator has not completed the verification procedure for an existing customer before May 7, the customer will not be allowed to gamble until the check-up is complete.
With the new guidelines in place, operators will easily be able to spot and block problem gamblers. The ID checks will also help customers in self-exclusion. However, operators have been told that inability to verify a customer’s identity before the deadline does not give them legal right to confiscate the player’s funds.
Last year, the regulator confirmed that customers are legally entitled to the money they deposited in their gambling accounts. They cannot be made to part from winnings or bonuses that they made arising out of the deposited funds.
UKGC’s statistics show that the problem gambling has decreased in the country. Between April 2018 and March 2019, problem gambling fell to its lowest rate since 2014. In 2017, the number of people reporting gambling problems made up 0.7% of the surveyed population. This time, the number fell to 0.4%. Similarly, “at risk” population fell from 2% in 2017 to 1.3% this year. The UK currently has an estimated 430,000 problem gamblers and two million “at risk” gamblers.