The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced new rules for operators who provide VIP schemes. The move comes following ever growing pressure on the industry with how the biggest spenders are incentivised. The statement from the UKGC made their stance on this subject clear. The chief executive of the UKGC Neil McArthur stated “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. 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.”
The changes will come into force on October 31st, 2020. After this date, all operators must adhere to the following changes.
- 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.
The guidance also requires operators to appoint a senior executive who holds a personal management license to oversee their respective scheme. Therefore, placing accountability on the individual.
The practice of VIP schemes has long been under scrutiny. There have been some pretty damning cases where irresponsible practice from the operator has resulted in harm for the player. It is those scenarios which must be dealt with and these steps from the UKGC will enforce operators to act in a more responsible manor, which is great for all players.
It is important to recognise that these changes are aimed at those who behave irresponsibly. Rewarding a player’s loyalty should be welcomed when it is done correctly. Loyalty is something we get from most retailers we use nowadays. For example, someone with a gold credit card will receive a variety of perks based on their spending. It may be supplemented travel or cash back on money spent. Operators should reward their most loyal customers and a ban on such schemes would only mean operators looking at different ways to rewards them.
Players can expect to see increases in the documents and information they are required to provide. If a VIP player is able to evidence their levels of play are within their means it should not be a problem for them. By increasing the regularity of these checks, it will allow operators to act where needed for those players who do display a heightened risk or vulnerability and take the right course of action, something which will only benefit those players.