Regulatory Outlook: Gambling – November 2016

Written on 29 Nov 2016

Current Issues

Fixed odds betting terminals: These are more commonly referred to as FOBTs (or, in certain quarters of the British media, the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’) and are reported as being subject to a review by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The review is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Daytime TV advertising: According to recent reports the FOBT review is now set to be expanded to also cover advertising issues, with the industry facing a potential ban on daytime TV ads.

Betting on eSports: Betting on so-called eSports has grown in popularity, leading the Gambling Commission to consult on new guidance.

Virtual currencies: The Gambling Commission has also moved to issue guidance in relation to virtual currencies and in-game items that can be traded, sold or used as virtual currency. It also initiated criminal prosecutions of two YouTubers for offences  involving gambling in relation to such in-game “skins”.

In Focus: Enforcement

The principal method of enforcement in the gambling sector is by the Gambling Commission, which has powers to prosecute for criminal offences or impose regulatory sanctions on licence-holders. Regulatory sanctions can include warnings, attachment of conditions to a licence, suspension or revocation of a licence, or the imposition of a financial penalty.

2016 has seen the Gambling Commission wrestling more seriously with new digital formats. Not only have we seen new draft guidance from the Commission on virtual currencies, eSports and social gaming; we have also had criminal prosecutions of YouTubers for offences involving betting on video games. As new formats evolve, whether in the areas of virtual reality, augmented reality or otherwise, and as we see artificial intelligence applications become more widely available to gambling operators and participants, the regulator is going to have its work cut out to keep up.

Dates for the diary

31 October 2016

The new version of the Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice comes into effect. Changes include:

  • new provisions to assist the prevention of gambling-associated crime;
  • a new condition about responsible placement of digital ads;
  • an extended requirement on non-remote lottery operators to assess and manage money laundering risk; and
  • new controls on where gaming machines can be played in licensed gambling premises.

Before end of 2016

The Gambling Commission’s finalised paper on virtual currencies, eSports and social gaming is expected to be published, following a consultation that ended on 30 September 2016.

Before end of 2016

The reported DCMS review into fixed odds betting terminals – now expected to be extended to cover daytime TV advertising of gambling generally – is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

For more information and details of all of the other areas covered by the Regulatory Outlook click here