Betting and Gaming Council announces customer checks

1 May 2024
(PRESS RELEASE) -- Standards body The Betting and Gaming Council today announces a new voluntary industry Code on Customer Checks which will raise standards, while reducing the need for requests for private financial documents.
Developed jointly with the Gambling Commission and backed by Government, this Code will operate as a voluntary interim scheme – bringing consistency across the regulated sector for operators who adopt it - until the frictionless financial risk assessments set out in the Government’s White Paper can be developed, tested and implemented.
In response to the ongoing debate around affordability, the BGC, Government and GC are taking action now to find practical solutions for online betting and gaming, giving greater clarity to customers and horseracing, while enhancing standards.
The new Industry Voluntary Code on Customer Checks published today, sets out what interactions a BGC operator must take when customers wish to make net deposits of more than £5,000 in a rolling month and when they wish to make net deposits of £25,000 in any rolling 12 month period.
Under this Voluntary Industry Code, only customers wishing to spend over £25,000 in any rolling 12 month period may have to provide financial documents to demonstrate they are not at financial risk.
While this Code delivers progress on resolving the issue of intrusive document checks, it does not offer a complete solution. So, the BGC and GC are now actively working on a new Code on Anti-Money Laundering checks, which also trigger requests for documents.
Betting and Gaming Council CEO and Acting Chair Michael Dugher, said: “This Code is good progress towards solving an issue that has generated such heated public debate. It will significantly increase the consistency of safer gambling standards while removing intrusive document checks for many who are currently subject to detailed checks.
“This should be particularly welcomed by British horseracing.
“It is vital to note that this new Code sits on top of a host of other safer gambling measures our members already conduct, and which only exist in the regulated sector.
“While this is good progress in the right direction, we are acutely aware more needs to be done.
“So I wish to see a new Code on Anti-Money Laundering Checks to complement this Code on Customer Checks to further raise standards on consistency and reduce the disproportionate need for document requests, rightly ensuring that betting with our members remains free from crime.”
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Today’s announcement of an interim code on customer checks is a major step forward, and will help ensure that we can continue to protect those at risk of gambling harm without penalising ordinary punters.
“Under the new interim code, there will be a reduction in the number of customers subject to the current inconsistent approach, as well as greater transparency and consistency across the sector. We welcome the work of industry to agree this voluntary code, and their contribution to the Gambling Commission’s recent consultation on financial risk checks.
“Over recent months we have been listening carefully to the views of industry, horse racing, campaigners, charities and ordinary punters. We are committed to a balanced approach, which respects the personal freedom of the many millions of people who gamble without issue, while protecting people from the potentially destructive impact of gambling addiction.
“While the interim code is a significant step, we know there is more to do, and the Gambling Commission is set to publish its response to the consultation on financial risk checks. This response will set out a new system of light-touch, frictionless financial vulnerability checks and a pilot of the enhanced risk assessments, and we remain committed to only bringing in these assessments if we are assured they will be genuinely frictionless for the vast majority of punters.”
Gambling Commission Chief Executive Andrew Rhodes, said: “This voluntary code will help ensure a consistent and transparent approach for consumers across participating operators where customer spend is the trigger for action. The thresholds in the code represent a set of minimum standards agreed by operators, including backstops where they will consider and engage with customers where necessary.
“We think this code will help address the varying approaches from operators to customer spend triggers today, whilst we conduct a pilot on the use of the frictionless financial risk assessments that the Government proposed in their White Paper.
“Of course, operators remain under the obligation to meet other requirements to support customers at risk of harm. All the normal monitoring and action by operators where their customers may be showing signs of risk or harm remain the same and this can often be done in ways which do not involve document checks.”
This new Code will sit alongside the new frictionless Financial Vulnerability Check, which is expected to be approved in the forthcoming Gambling Commission response to their ‘Remote gambling: financial vulnerability and financial risk’ consultation last year.
It also operates alongside the current round the clock monitoring of all customer accounts for markers of harm such as chasing losses, unusual betting behaviour, or betting at odd times of the day or night which, when triggered, may result in operators interacting with customers to ensure that they are betting safely.
While this new Code reduces the need to produce private financial documents, BGC members will continue to carry out millions of customer interactions each year, signposting help to those who need it and promoting safer gambling tools like deposit limits and timeouts.
The new Code builds on these checks to ensure a consistent approach when spending is the trigger for action and sets out what operators must do when customers wish to make net deposits of more than £5,000 in a rolling month and when they wish to make net deposits of £25,000 in any rolling 12 month period.
In line with the BGC’s long-standing commitment to deliver enhanced protections for young people, these thresholds will be reduced for 18-24 year-olds, to £2,500 in a rolling month.
Under this new Code, between the threshold for Financial Vulnerability Checks and these upper net deposit limits operators must carry out one or more of a range of interactions to assess vulnerability.
Those include interactive questionnaires, telephone and live chat interactions, requests to set a deposit limit and sending an activity statement with a required customer acknowledgement.
If a customer wishes to make a net deposit of more than £5,000 in a rolling month, operators must undertake a risk assessment to determine whether markers of harm are being displayed.
This may include an estimate of a customer’s income or wealth, as set out in the Code.
None of the actions at these spending thresholds – including those wishing to make a net deposit of more than £5,000 in a rolling month - require customers to produce private financial documents.
When a customer has a net deposit of £25,000 in any rolling 12-month period, operators must undertake a thorough check, often requiring documents such as Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD).
Customer winnings can be considered as part of both checks.
If any check or interaction at any point shows evidence of potential financial vulnerability, operators will use a range of targeted interventions from agreeing a deposit limit with a customer through to account closure to prevent potential harm.
This new voluntary Code reduces the number of customers who will have to submit documents and as an interim scheme will exist until the work needed to deliver truly frictionless financial risk checks promised in the White Paper are delivered.
This interim scheme should help guard against the appeal of the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market online, which has no safer gambling standards and contributes nothing to sport or the Treasury.
During the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year, Gambling Minister Stuart Andrew once again confirmed he would not support a new checks framework until he was assured they are frictionless and work.