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UKGC sets stringent guidelines for the protection of casino VIPs

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The UKGC has set a date for casino operators to implement strict guidelines for the protection of VIP account holders.

In the interest of responsible gambling and safety, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has systematically introduced additional levels of protection since October 2019 with a great deal of success.

The most recent guideline pays special attention to high-value players, who are often invited to join the VIP Program at online casinos.

While regular loyalty rewards programs issue players with points for every cash wager, which can then be redeemed for bonus credit or other perks, the VIP Program is by invitation only.

UKGC concerns

These high rollers are often gamblers who spend a higher than average amount of money playing casino games and are then invited to exclusive events as a token of thanks for their loyalty. With perks that include invitations to high roller tournaments, all expenses paid holidays, red carpet events and more, VIPs are treated like royalty.

"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... We understand that the number of customers signed up to ‘VIP’ schemes has already reduced by 70% since we challenged the industry to get its house in order, last year.

Whilst that is a sign of the positive impact our innovative approach to collaborative working can have, these new rules are designed to ensure progress continues to be made to protect vulnerable customers. Operators can be in no doubt about our expectations”, said UKGC Chief Executive Officer Neil MacArthur

This aligns with MacArthur’s challenges to the gaming industry in January where he called for:

  • Safer Products - Where existing games are evaluated for risks and new games are designed with protective measures to encourage responsible gaming.
  • Responsible Advertising - To proactively reduce the number of gambling-related ads seen by young adults and at-risk groups.
  • Careful Management of VIP Incentives - By offering perks to players in a safe, fair and crime-free manner.

As the UKGC is carefully considering the reduction of gambling harm, the Commission ran a consultation process where VIP standards were evaluated to ensure the incentivization of these high-value customers were not leading to unsafe gambling behaviour.

Call to casino operators

Casino operators have been called upon to pay special attention to the following 3 factors when considering players for the VIP Program:

  • Identity verification
  • Source of income
  • Occupation

These are in addition to more standard gambling protection protocols to ensure the affordability and sustainability of the players' spend. The UKGC has recommended that online casinos appoint a senior executive to oversee each VIP Program who would be accountable for the safety of these high-value patrons.

Stringent but safe

Casino operators who offer VIP Programs need to effectively walk the line between rewarding high-value players and irresponsible incentivization.

The Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher has praised the UKGC for raising the standards of gambling in the industry and acting in a manner to protect consumers rather than to encourage casino profits.

“The code restricts anyone aged under 25 from taking part, while any customer considered for a VIP reward program must first pass rigorous safer gambling checks and be subject to ongoing checks on their betting behaviour. Reward programs must be overseen by senior management and conducted in a clear and transparent way to prevent any betting-related harm.”

The GC has made a great deal of progress over recent months with each carefully considered measure to protect online casino players. As of 31 October, casino operators are required to implement user verification, set monthly limits to a maximum of £ 1,000 per month as well as take a proactive approach towards assessing and assisting players who show signs of gambling-related harm.

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